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" Tbw ttdt A«r gaod-byt," P. 





"the boys of BEECHWOOD." 







So l^e SUnunrg of 








chapter !ii. 
tom's grand relations turn their backs 
upon him — jack finds a new home, and 
tom makes a start in the world . . . 

chapter iv. 

tom and dick thorley become good friends 








jack's visit to BRIDGETOWN — ^TOM STANDS 

quarle's friend 46 















jack's adventure when he WENT TO BUY 





TOM VISITS HIS mother's OLD HOME . . . J96 



THE parson's ADVICE 2o8 
















men's appearance — THE SQUIRE'S WARNING 293 














BUMNE fine September morning in the year 
WMa 1 808 the sun shone brightly through the 
curtainless window of a small room, in which a 
boy of about thirteen years old was sleeping. 
Sleeping as soundly as if his bed was of down 
with silken draperies around it, instead of being, 
as it was, a poor straw pallet stretched upon the 
ground. It was a dreary, comfortless chamber ; 
scarcely a scrap of furniture in it but the straw 
pallet, and yet the young sleeper looked well 
and rosy, being evidently a boy who could bear 
privations well, and to whom the want of what 
others might think the most essential t.owS.o*i& 


would scarcely be considered a hardship. The 
room, although thus bare and meagre, was in a 
large and comfortable-looking farm-house one 
story high, a long, low, rambling building which 
had been erected more than a hundred years ago 
by the great-great-grandfather of the sleeping 
boy, and as far as could be seen from the window 
of the room he occupied, and stretching round 
on every side, were fields and lands which for 
one generation after another had been owned by 
those who bore the same name as did little Tom 

They had been a race of thriving farmers in 
their time — sturdy, fearless, honest, hardworking 
men ; large-limbed and well made, who paid 
tithes, poor-rates, and taxes duly ; worked, them- 
selves, at the head of their labourers ; sat down 
to dine with their farming-men and serving- 
maids at one large table ; went to church as 
regularly as Sunday came round, joined heartily 
in the responses, and slept through the sermon ; 
helped the poor with a liberal hand, were kindly 
masters, and good husbands and fathers ; feared 
God, honoured the king, and owed no man any- 

Things had gone well with them in the old farm- 
house. Field after field had been added to the 
original homestead, till the Dunstones were as well 


to do men as any in their own parish or the next. 
They knew nothing, you may be sure, of steam 
ploughs, or machines for making hay ; had never 
heard of guano ; would have laughed their loudest 
at any one who would have talked to them of the 
advantages some knowledge of chemistry might 
give to the cultivators of land ; but they went on 
as their forefathers had done before them, with 
the same rude implements and homely ways ; 
laid by money and bought one field after another, 
and lived in a hearty, rough, plentiful fashion, 
which contented them sufficiently, and which 
they would have been sorry to have changed for 
the refinement and niceties that have now become 
indispensable to those in a similar position. 

So things had gone till the time of Reuben 
Dunstone, the father of the little Tom whom I 
have shown you sleeping in the small bare room 
in the old farm-house ; and at first matters had 
gone as well with him as with his father and 
grandfather before him. He had married, too, 
rather above his own position — ^the younger 
daughter of a small squire with a large family in 
a neighbouring parish. It was thought a come 
down on Miss Lucy Preston's part when she 
became his wife, but she made him an excellent 
one, nevertheless, and was much happier in the 
homely farm-house with its plentvfwVbo^x^ ^\A 




homely comforts than were her three unmarried 
sisters who vegetated on the interest of their 
small portions at Bath, and sneered at Lucy, 
and thought they honoured her and her husband 
by accepting Christmas hampers full of pork 
and poultry, and considered that they showed 
themselves examples of Christian humility by 
deigning to recognise her as a sister, though they 
ignored her farmer husband completely. She 
was much happier, too, than her elder sisters, 
who had married — one the lawyer, the other the 
doctor of Bridgetown — and who were in mortal 
fear lest any one in the place should know they 
had a farmer for a brother-in-law. They sent 
their children, though, to the farm-house for 
change of air in the haymaking and harvest 
time, and were not at all above receiving the 
pots of jam and baskets of apples, eggs, and 
butter the youngsters brought back with them 
on their return home ; but they never asked Lucy's 
boys and girls back again, and they managed 
to give her to understand that in sending their 
own they did it out of sheer kindness to her in 
order that she might not feel that her family had 
passed over her altogether. But Mrs. Dunstone 
was of a gentle, loving disposition, and even these 
disdainful marks of family regard were grateful 
to her. She spoiled her nephews and nieces 


whenever theyr came to her house ; sent kindly 
messages back to her sisters by them when they 
returned home, as well as more substantial tokens 
of her affection. She was no great hand at her 
pen, or I have no doubt she would have written 
these great ladies very affectionate epistles ; and 
being of a lowly mind and contented disposition, 
she looked after her maids,her dairy, and her fowls, 
brought her children up tenderly but wisely, was 
a good mistress, a kind neighbour, and, as her 
husband averred when the time came that she 
was deaf even to his voice, the best wife that 
ever man was blessed with. 

And in my opinion — though it seems poor 
praise to add it after all that I have said — ^was, 
though she had thought fit to marry a farmer, 
the truest and the best lady of all her family, 
whatever the prim old maids in Bath, or those 
high and mighty dames, the doctor^s wife and 
the lawyer's in Bridgetown, might say to the con- 

Reuben Dunstone was a good man to the poor, 
and you may be sure his wife went with him in 
that matter. Every Simday so many labourers 
who had spent their best days in his service dined 
in his kitchen — and so many poor old women 
came and took their dinners home with them — 
liberal slices from the good roast aivd\Ky\^,\>vX. 


for which from one year'k end to another the 
poor old creatures would not have known the 
taste of meat ; and in many other ways Mrs. 
Dunstone was kind and helpful to those around 
her. She visited them when they were ill, had 
her own little stock of herb- physics at their ser- 
vice, which often saved a doctor's bill, got places 
for the girls when they were old enough, and 
talked to them wisely and kindly as to the best 
way of keeping their situations and laying out 
their money ; was always ready to help wherever 
she could, and did ten times the good in the 
parish that the Squire's lady effected who had 
five times the means at her disposal. 

But troubles came, as they come to all of us, 
even to this sweet-tempered, happy-natured 
woman. Her two girls fell ill and died, one 
after the other, and her heart was almost broken 
by the blow. She did not know — never was to- 
know — ^that a time would come, when her hus- 
band, who seemed now almost as grief-stricken 
as herself, would look upon the g^ave where his 
darlings were sleeping and say, " I thank God ! 
they at least are provided for." Before that 
time came she herself was resting with her girls^ 
and her husband was glad that it was so. 

You will think, boys, for once, that I am going 
to tell you a grave, sad story.. Go on with me a 


little further, and I do not think you will find it 
so. But life is not all fun and prank-playing, 
even for boys, much more for g^own-up folks, 
and I am speaking here of people who really 
lived and suffered ; and little Tom, whose 
troubles and adventures I am now about to re- 
count, was a real true person ; and I have heard 
him tell of that old farm-house, and the sorrows 
that came to his father in it so often, that I 
must needs speak of them as the sad, serious 
things they were. 

The beginning of Tom's troubles was in this 
wise : 

Some folks in the county, much richer than 
Reuben Dunstone, thought, and with good 
reason, that if many of the low-lying lands were 
drained the crops would be increased greatly, 
and the value of the land trebled. This was all 
very well, only they should have gone to work a 
little more cautiously than they did, and not 
have gone buying acres upon acres of low swampy 
ground, paying twice as much for them as they 
had ever fetched before ; for the owners, knowing 
for what it was required, of course took care not 
to let it go too cheap. This scheme of drainage 
became quite a mania and speculation. Reuben 
Dunstone embarked in it. He was not content 
with going to work on his owrv\aT\ds,\>M\. ta\i^\. 


buy shares in "The Great West Counties 
Drainage Company;" and when those shares 
went down his creditors were pressing him, for 
he had run into debt in order to drain his own 
farm, and the savings of years had been in- 
vested in shares that were now worth little or 

Before this his good wife had been taken from 
him, so she was spared the knowledge that the 
farm which the Dunstones had so long held as a 
freehold in their family was sold by auction — the 
squire, Mr. Houghton, purchasing it — and that 
the very furniture was put up for sale in the old 
farm-house — everything — ^the old mahogany four- 
post bedstead, black with age, and daintily carved, 
upon which so many Dunstones had breathed 
their last, the quaint old chairs, the curious 
bureaus with their nests of drawers, the patch- 
work and knitted quilts which Mrs. Dunstone's 
busy fingers had wrought, the old silver tankards 
and mugs, the very pride of Reuben Dunstone's 
heart, which had come down from father to son, 
and for so many years had graced the best 
parlour sideboard, the choice china tea service 
and punchbowls, of which Mrs.Dunstone had been 
as proud as her husband was of the silver — yes, 
even all these precious heirlooms were handled, 
felt, criticised, bid for, and sold. 


And even then the creditors had not enough. 
Those were times when, if a man could not or 
would not pay his debts, he was kept in prison 
for years, sometimes for life ; and there was one 
man more pitiless than any of the rest, who had 
lent Reuben Dunstone three hundred pounds to 
carry out the drainage of his lands, and finding 
himself not paid in full was determined to punish 
the defaulter. So the bailiffs were set to watch 
for Reuben Dunstone, and to take him, if they 
could, to Somerset jail, there to wear his life 
away, as some satisfaction to the creditor to 
whom he could give no other. 

He might have left the place, but he had no 
money to take him elsewhere, and he felt too 
crushed and broken-hearted to care to make an 
effort to better himself. The Squire was in no 
hurry to take possession of the old farm-house ; 
it seemed even to him, and he was not one of 
the most pitiful of men, too cruel to hound a 
man out without a little grace from the home he 
and his fathers had lived in so long. And Reuben 
Dunstone felt as if till driven out he could not 
go, he must stay there yet a little while — 
but a little while, till the end of all should 

Only there was the fear of the bailiffs. So the 
farm-house doors were kept c\ose\y ^mX. ^xA 


bolted, and the windows well secured, and 
Reuben Dunstone never ventured forth, even in 
his own garden, without little Tom being first 
sent out as a scout, to see if there were any 
suspicious-looking individuals lurking about. 
Tom was keen and quick, and would peer over 
the garden-hedges in all directions, and often gave 
his father warning just when the bailiffs thought 
themselves surest of their prey. A long low 
whistle from Tom, or the cry, " There's ferrets 
abroad, father," was always enough to send 
Reuben Dunstone within doors ; and then little 
Tom, with his rosy apple face, would look up 
good-temperedly at the strangers, and tell them 
"he was afraid they'd had a long walk for 
nothing, but they'd find a stile or two hard by to 
rest on." 

One or two of the neighbours finding Reuben 
Dunstone would not leave the house, had sent 
him in a little bidding and a few articles of furni- 
ture ; otherwise he and his boys must have slept 
on the ground and sat upon the floor. As to 
food, Tom dug up potatoes from the garden and 
boiled them, getting wood as best he could from 
the neighbouring copses and hedgerows for his 
fire. There were plenty of apples for dessert, 
and one day Tom begged some flour from a 
neighbour, and made a squab pie — and really, as 


Tom said, considering there was no meat in it, it 
was not so bad. And so things had gone on for 
the last six weeks before the opening of my tale, 
and the morning in which I showed you little 
Tom fast asleep in his bed on the floor. 




|HE sun, shining as it did full through the 
curtainless window upon Tom's eyes, 
roused him effectually. Up he sprang, and began 
dressing himself. It was a simple toilet, very 
soon performed ; and as in Tom's chamber there 
was neither basin nor washstand, he had to go 
downstairs and perform his ablutions under the 
pump. A small piece of comb, which he kept 
in his pocket, soon made his hair sufficiently 
smooth and tidy, and then Tom, with his face 
glowing and shining from the effects of his cold 
bath, set to work to prepare breakfast. He lit a 
fire on the wide kitchen hearth with some sticks 
he had collected the night before. He set out 
on the one small table three plates and as many 
mugs, and then, as the fire burned up, put some 
potatoes to boil in a crock which hung over it. 
"We'll have them baked in the embers for 


dinner," said Tom, " that'll make a very good 
change ; and we'll have apples for supper, and, if 
father can spare me, I'll get some blackberries 
and nuts to eat with them. I'd fry the potatoes 
to-morrow only I've got no lard, and I do not 
think they'd do so well in water." 

Tom looked sadly round the kitchen as he 
spoke, and thought of the time when the bacon 
racks had been loaded, and the hams had hung 
from the rafters, and his father's men had 
gathered round the g^eat table, which was always 
so amply spread. 

" I wonder whether I shall ever eat fried pork 
and potatoes again for breakfast," he said, as he 
watched his potatoes boiling ; " and as to roast 
beef, I do not think I shall ever know the taste of 
that any more, unless in my dreams. I did 
dream I had it for dinner last night ; and, oh dear, 
how sorry I felt when I woke. The potatoes are 
done. Father's late ! I wonder he has not called 
me to dress Jack before." 

Jack was Tom's little brother — the Benjamin 
of the family — ^and as such, in the trouble which 
had befallen them, doubly dear to his father's 
heart. He slept in the same bed with him, 
nestling up to the strong man's broken heart in 
the dark nights when Reuben Dunstone lay awake 
to think over his ruined fortunes. 'J^cJ^\vaA\i^'^Ti 


his mother's darhng. He was a small, slight 
child of six years, not very strong, and with 
curious, old-fashioned ways, which caused Tom, 
who delighted in them, to give his brother the 
name of " Peculiar," to which Jack would answer 
as readily as to his own proper designation. 

"The potatoes are done," said Tom again. 
^* I think Y\\ go in softly and see if Jack's awake. 
I'll get him up if he is, and give him his breakfast, 
without waking father." 

Tom went upstairs on tiptoe, opened his 
father's door noiselessly, and entered the room, 
which was as bare and wretched as his own. 
Reuben Dunstone lay on his back on the little 
straw pallet with which his neighbours' charity 
had supplied him, one arm under his head, the 
other lying by his side. It had been over Jack 
best part of the night ; but when the little fellow 
woke he had crept away from his father's em- 
brace, the arm which encircled him had seemed so 
heavy, and now he was leaning pn his elbow, 
looking fixedly down at his sleeping father's 
face. He turned to Tom as he entered. 

" Father's asleep ; but I never saw him look 
so strange before." 

Tom stole up and looked too at his father. 
It was a peaceful face, with a smile on it such as 
Tom had not seen it wear for many a day, and 


a calm, happy look, as if when Reuben Dun- 
stone had laid his head on the pillow the pre- 
ceding night he had left all his cares behind him. 
But somehow that look reminded Tom of his 
mother as he had last seen her — fair and still — 
before the cofiin-lid was closed upon her, and he 
ran up to the bedside, crying wildly, " Father I 
father ! wake !" and kissed the lips that gave no 
kisses back, and then caught his little brother in 
his arms, sobbing wildly out, " Oh, Jack ! he's 
gone to heaven !" 

And Jack burst into tears, and cried, " Then 
he ought to have taken us with him !" 




EUBEN DUNSTONE was decently 
buried, and not by the parish. His neigh- 
bours clubbed together to pay the fees, the 
Squire gave the coffin, and so, with Tom and 
little Jack as chief mourners, he was placed in 
the same grave as his wife and his two little 
daughters. Ambrose Dunstone, a distant rela- 
tion, had taken the two boys home with him till 
the funeral was over, and something could be 
arranged for the future ; but he had no intention 
of troubling himself any longer about them than 
at such a time he was compelled to do in com- 
mon decency, and even if he had been more 
generously disposed to the two orphans, his 
wife, who was a keen, sharp little woman, would 
not have allowed him to do very much for them. 
Tom and Jack had plenty of relations on the 


mother's side, but they none of them seemed 
very ready to help the poor little unfortunates : 
the doctor's wife and the lawyer's when applied 
to by Ambrose Dunstone on their behalf, inti- 
mating that they had too many children of their 
own to be able to look after any others ; and the 
old maids at Bath writing back that it could not 
be expected that they, who had wisely kept un- 
married for fear of the troubles and disasters of 
the married state, should be disposed to take 
two such serious encumbrances upon themselves 
as two boys would be. They might as well have 
got married, and had boys of their own. There 
was their uncle the Squire, but he was a hard- 
fisted, close-grained man, who had married a few 
years since a well-to-do widow for her money, 
and took such good care of it that even she 
could have none for the spending. Ambrose 
called upon him the day after the funeral, taking 
Tom and Jack with him. Mrs. Ambrose had 
told her husband she should be just as well 
pleased if he returned without the children ; the 
Squire, who was their own mother's brother, had 
a much better right to keep them than he, who 
was only their father's cousin four times removed. 
But the Squire would not even let the children, 
or Ambrose either, enter the house ; he came out 
and spoke to the latter, telling him he had been 



a prudent man all his life, and had not saved 
money to spend it on other people's children ; 
his sister Lucy had married to please herself, not 
him, and if she and her husband had left their 
children unprovided for, he did not consider that 
it was any affair of his. 

" YouVe a well-to-do man, Mr. Ambrose," he 
added, " and bear the same name as the boys ; 
can't you make them useful on your farm as 
youVe no sons of your own } They'd surely 
earn their keep in a place like yours." 

" My wife does not like children, never having 
had none of her own. Squire," replied Ambrose. 
"And we've enough to do to make both ends meet 
at the end of the year without saddling our- 
selves with other people's bairns ; and no one 
has any business to put such a charge on me 
neither," he added, sulkily ; " and sha'n't too, I 
can tell 'em." 

" Just as you please," said the Squire. " Then 
I suppose they must go to the parish. Good 
morning, Mr. Dunstone." 

And he turned on his heel and went into the 

" Darn him for an old screw !" cried Ambrose, 
shaking his fist at him, which, however, had not 
much effect on the Squire, as his back was 
turned. " Well, boys, we must put our best feet 


foremost and get home ; and what the missus *11 
say when she sees you turned back like a couple 
of bad halfpennies, I do not know. Here, Jack, 
your poor little l^s must ache : come along» 
lad, and Til give thee a lift." 

Ambrose was not an unkindly man, but he 
thought too much of money-getting, and his 
wife encouraged him in this failing. He had, 
too, his share of homely yeoman pride, and he 
shrank from the idea of any who bore his name 
eating workhouse bread. Still it was rather 
hard that he should have to keep the two chil- 
dren when those who were so much nearer of 
kin to them, and were better able to do it, 
evaded the obligation. And then there was the 
fear of his wife. Ambrose was a large powerful 
man, and his wife a thin wisp of a woman, with 
a waist like a wasp's, but she ruled him com- 
pletely, and had contrived to impress him with 
such an opinion of her superior sense, tact, and 
management that he thought there was no one 
in the world to compare with her. She had 
allowed him to bring the children home after 
their father's death, but without any intention of 
permanently maintaining them ; and now it 
seemed as if the only alternative, if she refused 
to let the boys remain with her, would be to 
send them to the workhouse, " which," as Am- 



brose said to himself, "was what no Dunstone 
had ever yet come to." 

On he plodded, with little Jack on his shoulder 
and Tom trotting by his side. The latter was 
very silent, turning over the Squire's words in 
his mind, and wondering if Cousin Ambrose 
would really send Jack and him to the work- 
house. Thinking, too, what a hard world it was, 
and what cruel people were in it ; and how, if he 
lived to be as old as his father, who had died at 
forty-five, or his grandfather, whom he remem- 
bered feeble, white-haired, and seventy-nine, he 
should fight through all the troubles that would 
beset him when already he found them too many 
for him ? And there was little Jack, too. He, 
Tom, could work — ^would work, and live, if need 
were, on a crust a day sooner than go to the 
workhouse ; but what could little Jack do .^ He 
was too young even to scare crows, and Tom 
was afraid his own labour would never suffice 
for the two. He would try, however. To the 
workhouse he would never go, nor should Jack 
either — no, not if they had to eat hips and haws 
like the birds, or acorns like the pigs ; and vague 
thoughts crossed Tom's mind as to the possi- 
bility of building a hut in Boreham Wood hard 
by, and living there Robinson Crusoe fashion 
along with little Jack, who would be quite ready, 


he knew, to sustain the character of Man Friday. 
"But then there's the winter," thought Tom, 
"and what shall we do for clothes when these 
wear out ? Hare-skins would have a funny look in 
England ; besides, one must not kill the hares, and 
I do not know how many rabbits it would take for a 
suit, and they're rather scarce in Boreham Wood. 
Oh dear ! I wish, as little Jack says, father had 
taken us with him when he went to heaven." 

Sorrowful thoughts for Tom, only thirteen years 
old, and walking too through a lane that might 
have rejoiced any boy's heart, with the apple- 
trees growing on either side, so close that any 
moderately tall person might gather the fruity 
only that there was no need to do so, as plenty of 
ripe rosy windfalls lay on either side the lane, 
and might be taken honestly. And the black- 
berries in the hedges were ripe and juicy, and 
hung thick in tempting clusters ; and the wild 
bindweed decked the brambles with its great 
white flowers ; and the birds twittered and sang : 
while over all the deep blue sky looked brightly 
down upon the fair earth below and upon poor 
little Tom, walking sadly along with a heavy 
heart in his bosom. 

Only, sad as he was, Tom was resolved about 
one thing, and that was, neither Jack nor he 
should go to the workhouse. 


They had but a chilling welcome back from 
Mrs. Ambrose. Still after a time she relented a 
little from her coldness, and gave Jack, who with 
Tom had been set down to stirabout, seasoned 
with salt, for their evening meal, a drop of tea 
out of her own saucer. Tea, the cheapest, was 
seven shillings a pound at that time, so you may 
be sure Mrs. Ambrose set great store by it ; and 
this sip of tea from her saucer showed that she 
was inclined to look favourably upon " Peculiar," 
€ven though his uncle the Squire had refused to 
have anything to do with him. Then after tea, 
Ambrose sent the boys out to pick up windfalls 
from the orchard, and told his wife the result of 
the visit to the Squire, and the probability that 
if they did not keep them from it. Jack and Tom 
would have to go to the workhouse. 

"Try Mrs. Jefferies, in Bridgetown," said Mrs. 
Ambrose ; "though she's a bigger screw if any- 
thing than her brother — wanting to make every 
fourpence go as far as another person's shilling, 
all to make a show, and lead folks to think the 
doctor's making his fortune, when by all accounts, 
with all her scraping, they've enough to do to 
make both ends meet at the end of the year. If 
she'd send off two of her maids and her foot-boy 
and turn her own hand to her house, instead of 
playing the fine lady, she might be ablp to keep 


her sister's children instead of saddling us with 

But Ambrose Dunstonc knew very well that 
neither Mrs. Jefferies, nor Mrs. Brown the 
lawyer's wife, would be likely to do anything of 
the kind. They were far too anxious to keep up 
an appearance to have any money to spare for 
their poor relations ; and if the children were in 
Boreham workhouse, it would be a matter of very 
slight importance to them so long as none of 
their genteel acquaintances in Bridgetown knew it. 

'* Darn them !" cried Ambrose, " they think 
of nothing but their finery and fallals, and 'ud 
let their own flesh and blood die in the gutter 
before they'd soil the tips of their fingers by 
pulling 'em out As to the Squire, if ever I felt 
tempted to break a fellow's head, I did his to- 
day. I would not mind taking the children half 
so much if it was not for the thought that it's 
sparing his pocket at the expense of my own." 

Ambrose and his wife talked long and anxi- 
ously that night, and at last Mrs. Ambrose agreed 
that sooner than suffer her husband's relations to 
go to the workhouse, if the parish would only 
agree to put Tom out apprentice, little Jack 
might stay with them. 

" He does not eat much," she said, " and is quiet 
•enough in the place ; and by-and-by you'll make 


him handy. And I sha'n't forget whenever I go 
to Bridgetown to let folks know we're keeping 
Madam Jefferies* nephew out of charity. There's 
no knowing but she may want for her own 
children before long." 

And so, the next day, Tom's mind was so far 
set at rest as to the probability of Jack and him- 
self being turned adrift, that he was acquainted 
with the decision Ambrose and his wife had 
arrived at. Tom was very ready to learn a trade ; 
there was nothing in the world he thought equal 
to farming, but, as he could not follow that; he 
would do his best at something else. Jack, at 
any rate, would have a home if not a very good 
one ; and by-and-by Tom would fetch him away 
and make a man of him. 

The parish agreed to pay Tom's apprentice 
fee. It was an easy way of providing for him ; 
and before a fortnight was over Tom's indentures 
were signed, and he was duly bound to learn the 
handicraft of a carpenter, including rake and 
hurdle making, from his master, Seth Wilkins of 

"And I'm thankful he's so near those two 
stuck-up madams, and hope he'll claim cousins 
with their children when they're out walking, 
dressed up like so many little popinjays," said 
Mrs. Ambrose, when she heard of it. But she had 


Tom's clothes all in excellent order, well washed 
and mended, ready for him to take ; and she 
gave him a basket of apples, and a little dog's* 
eared old Testament which she had had when a 
girl ; and bade Tom " hold up his head, and not 
be afraid to look any one in the face, let them be 
as grand as they might." 

So Tom bade her good-bye, and then turned to 
Jack, who was trying to look like a very brave 
boy indeed, and as if he did not mind in the 
least being left behind, and kept down the tears 
that were welling into his poor little eyes and 
the sobs that were choking his throat, till Tom 
was out of sight and hearing, when he gave a 
great roar and flung himself down on the ground, 
kicking his feet against it till Mrs. Ambrose 
trembled for his shoe-leather, and prayed him to 
be quiet. But Jack was deaf to her entreaties ; 
he roared for full half an hour, at the end of 
which time he fell asleep, and woke in one of 
those amiable moods which Tom used to cha- 
racterize as " Peculiar's sulking fits ;" looking 
upon every one, from the cat to Mrs. Ambrose, 
as if they were his natural enemies, and in a con- 
spiracy to inflict some serious injury upon him. 
This lasted for two days. Jack would have 
thought it an affront to Tom to have come out of 
his sulks an hour sooner, and at the end of that 


time he became his old-fashioned, queer, precise 
little self, going about everything, as Mrs. Am- 
brose said, " like an old man of sixty instead of 
a child at six, and talking for all the world as if 
he knew more than all the other folks put 
together in it." 

Tom was driven off with his small store of 
luggage by Ambrose in the tax-cart he used to 
go to market in. Bridgetown was but four miles 
from Boreham, and though Dobbin went at a 
slow pace, they were not long in reaching their 
destination. Seth Wilkins's workshop was a large 
shed at the end of a yard abutting on the high 
road, where clumps of hurdles and piles of wood 
lay seasoning in the air. By the side of the shed 
was the dwelling-house, a roomy, white plastered 
cottage, with a garden still bright with autumn 
flowers before it, and here Ambrose Dunstone 
stopped, and bidding Tom alight, handed him 
out his luggage, and then stretched out his hand 
to bid him good-bye. 

Tom took it and held it tightly. 

" Cousin Ambrose, you*ll be kind to little 
Jack ?" and then, dashing the tears away, hold- 
ing up his head, and trying to look as brave as 
need be, Tom walked up to the house that was 
now to be his home, and after tapping at the 
door, opened it and walked in. 




|0M opened the door and walked in, and then 
very naturally looked about him to see what 
sort of a place his new abode was, and who was 
in it. The survey on the whole was satisfactory. 
It was a large kitchen, comfortably furnished 
with plenty of dark old wooden chairs, tables 
that were as white as constant scrubbing could 
make them, and a dresser that was perfectly 
resplendent with pewter plates and mugs. There 
was a large eight-day clock in one corner, and a 
comfortably cushioned arm-chair by the hearth, 
in which, however, no one was resting but a large 
tabby cat, who opened his eyes and surveyed 
Tom when he entered, as if to ask his business. 
The floor was of red tiles, and the fire burned, 
not in a grate, but upon the hearth, as Tom had 
been used to see it in his own home. But at 


first it seemed as though the kitchen was un- 
occupied, except by the cat, till, on walking up 
to the hearth, Tom saw a boy, who appeared 
about fourteen, sitting on a small stool within it, 
and cracking nuts steadily, judiciously throwing 
the husks in the fire so as to make it burn the 

Tom looked intently at this boy, who in re- 
turn stared back at him. He had red hair, un- 
mistakeably red ; no passing it off for auburn or 
chestnut ; it was clear bright red ; his complexion 
was very much freckled, his mouth wide, his 
nose of a nondescript order, inclining to snub, 
and his eyes, which were very small ones, of a 
light hazel. He was short, too, for his age, and 
rather stout ; on the whole, not a handsome boy 
by any means, but still with a pleasant good- 
tempered expression about him which made you 
take to him at once, and like that plain homely 
face of his better than many a handsomer one. 

He went on eating his nuts, looking up at 
Tom all the while ; and Tom, with his curly 
chestnut hair, blue eyes, and clear though sun- 
burned skin, was certainly the best worth look- 
ing at ; at last, having finished the nuts that lay 
before him, the red-haired lad observed — 

" So you're the new boy, eh } Come upon 
tr/al to see how you like things ?" 


" Yes," said Tom, " I've come ; but where's 
the master ?*' , 

" Grone out to see about a job in Finch's Lane, 
and the missus is out at chapel. There's always 
a prayer-meeting on Wednesday nights, so they 
left me at home as they expected you. Sit down, 
and have some nuts. I've lots more in my 

So he had, and Tom sat down and discussed 
them on the opposite side of the hearth, and 
before Seth Wilkins or his wife had returned, the 
two boys were excellent friends. Tom had 
learned that his master was " very fairish on the 
whole, though rather given to the dismals, espe- 
cially when he had an extra good piece of work 
on hand ; and if the mistress was not so over- 
fond of chapel and so very anxious that other 
people should be as particular fond of it as she 
was herself, she would not be a bad one. And 
she's not a screw with the grub either ; there's 
always plenty, and no stint in the puddings, but 
that chapel three times a day on Sundays, and 
twice in the week to prayer-meetings if the 
master can only spare me — ^which sometimes by 
good luck he can't — is too much for any boy ; 
it stands to reason, one can't be expected to like 
so much oi it— -it's not in nature." 

Then Dick Thorley heard som^ ol To\x^^ 


troubles — not all, some lay too deep to be spoken 
of, but he told him of the loss of the old farm- 
house (touching very lightly upon that of his 
father), and the behaviour of Squire Preston, and 
his grief at parting with Peculiar, and then as 
Dick saw the tears stealing down Tom's cheeks, he 
tried to cheer him up by picturing the advantages 
of his present situation in its brightest colours, 
telling him of the long drives into the neigh- 
bouring villages that he sometimes went with 
his master, and how he, Dick, had been occa- 
sionally entrusted to drive out by himself, and 
that very possibly Tom might in time be equally 
privileged, or at any rate be allowed to go out 
with only Dick instead of the master. He also 
told him what a famous place the neighbouring 
wood was for hazel-nuts and blackberries, and 
what fine skating there was in winter on the pond 
at the end of the town, which was not five 
minutes' walk from Seth Wilkins's. And he did 
Tom a great deal of good by the manner in 
which he inveighed against Squire Preston, who, 
he declared, was a mean rascal who did not 
deserve to have relations, especially nephews. 
Tom felt all the better for this conversation, and 
was very much pleased by the sight of his new 
mistress when she came in. She was a kind 
motherlylooking woman^ with tlve dear com- 


plexion so common in Devonshire, from which 
she came. He was not quite so favourably im- 
pressed with the appearance of his master, Seth 
Wilkins being a tall angular man, with a pale» 
melancholy face, and as he had just made a con- 
tract for a very profitable piece of work, he was, 
according to his custom, more depressed and low- 
spirited than was his wont. The boys made an 
excellent supper off bread and cheese, cider, and 
cold apple-pie, and then after prayers retreated 
to a little double-bedded room upstairs, where 
they lay awake half the night talking together. 

But they were up in good time in the morn- 
ing, late as it had been before they went to sleep, 
and beginning the day as it should be begun 
with prayers offered up together, went to work 
till breakfast-time in the large workshop or shed. 
Tom was awkward at first, as you may imagine ; 
he knocked his fingers instead of the nails, and 
had a narrow escape from sawing one of them 
off. But he was not a boy to be easily dis- 
heartened. He had come to learn a trade, and 
he meant to do it. How else should he ever get 
a home to take little Jack to i And after a 
time he became familiar with the tools, and in 
other ways his life went on pleasantly enough. 
His mistress was a kind one, and though Tom 
was not more fond of chapel tlvatv livcV., V^\^^^ 


the old minister who officiated there very much, 
and was always glad to see him coming up the 
garden to take tea with Mrs. Wilkins, as he had 
always a kind word or a harmless joke for Dick 
and him. And Seth Wilkins was not a hard 
master. He was apt to sing hymns of rather a 
depressing tendency, especially when work was 
briskest, and to declare mournfully he should 
lose by it whenever he undertook a fresh job, but 
Tom soon got used to that as "master's way," 
and Dick and he hammered away merrily enough 
themselves, whistling merry tunes that were quite 
out of harmony with Seth Wilkins's mournful 
ones. Then Tom made several acquaintances. 
Dick had quite a circle of friends. There were 
the baker's sons, who seemed to have a fine time 
of it driving about in their father's cart, and the 
smith's boys, who were learning betimes to help 
their father at the forge. And there was the 
miller's lad, who, being an only child, was spoiled 
by both father and mother, and was the sauciest, 
merriest, idlest boy in the place. Dick was 
very fond of him though, and so was Tom after 
a while ; indeed, there were not many people 
who did not like Harry Swain, imp as he was. 
You may be very sure Tom saw little of his 
cousins or of his lady aunts. He had gone 
blackberrying and nutting with the elder chil- 


dren, swung the little ones and carried them on 
his back, but all that was forgotten now. If 
they met Tom they looked straight before them 
or on the other side of the road, and passed by 
him as though they had never known him. 
They had been very well brought up in the ways 
of gentility by their mammas, that was clear — 
much too well brought up to think of saying 
anything to a carpenter s boy like Tom. As to 
his aunts, it was grand to see how they would 
look Tom in the face and pass by him ; no one 
could ever have thought Tom was their own 
sister's child, still less that that sister had all her 
life shown them and theirs constant, unremitting 
kindness. They had forgotten all that now, you 
may be sure ; all they thought about their sister 
"was that she had inflicted an injury upon them 
by marrying as she had done, and that in 
justice to themselves they were bound to forget, 
as much as they could, all and everything 
connected with one who had so disgraced her 

Only the pity of it was, that if they forgot it 
other people did not ; and every one in the town 
knew quite well before Tom's indentures were 
signed that Seth Wilkins's apprentice was nephew 
to Mrs. Jefferies and Mrs. Brown, who were too 
proud to have anything to say to him, and that 


little Jack, his brother, would have gone to the 
workhouse if it had not been for the charity of 
Ambrose Dunstone^ his fourth cousin. I think 
on the whole, these ladies would have done 
better for themselves and their husbands too, if 
they had not made up their minds quite sa 
steadily to have nothing to do with their dead 
sister's motherless children. 

There was one person in the town whom Tom 
was not long in being introduced to, at least as 
far as having him pointed out to him could be 
called an introduction, and this was Jacob Quarle, 
that pitiless creditor of his father of whom I 
have spoken. Tom had never seen him before 
he came to live in Bridgetown ; but he had heard 
of him as a close, hard man, with strange 
ways and miserly habits ; and certainly his 
appearance did not belie the character. He 
dressed, not shabbily, but sordidly, vilely. There 
were all sorts of stories about the town as to Jacob 
Quarle's attire; some said that he had bought his 
coat from a rag-shop, changed hats with a scare- 
crow, and picked up his boots off a dung-heap. 
No one could think such tales improbable who 
looked at Jacob. He had a pinched, starved 
face, which was not to be wondered at if you saw 
him in the market cheapening scraps of meat, 
and going from stall to stall to see where he 


could obtain the best pennyworth of potatoes. 

He was lean and stooping in figure, and from 
under his great grey eyebrows his little keen 
black eyes looked sharply out Boys always 
hate a miser ; but when that miser has done his 
best to hunt and hound one's own dear father 
into prison, that hatred is likely to be increased. 
Accordingly Tom detested Jacob Quarle as he 
had never yet detested any one, and though he 
would not join other boys when they called 
the old man names, and gibed and jeered him, 
sometimes even going the length of pelting him 
with stones, he looked on when they did so with 
anything but disapproval. 

Jacob lived in a large old house, not very far 
from that of Seth Wilkins. How it had come 
into his hands no one exactly knew, but it was 
generally believed he had not acquired it very 
fairly. It had been a comfortable dwelling in its 
time, but was now in a sad state of dirt and 
decay. The spacious, pleasant rooms were empty 
and unfurnished, and the rats and mice played 
unmolested in them. The stairs were thick with 
dust, and the carved oaken balustrades were 
mouldering and worm-eaten. It seemed strange 
that Jacob Quarle should care to keep such a 
house to himself, when he might have let it 
for ten times the rent for which he could have 

D 2 


obtained all the accommodation he really needed, 
dwelling, as he did, in one small room at the 
lower part of the house. Of course all sorts of 
curious stories were set afloat to account for his 
doing so. Some said he had buried his money 
in the garden, or hidden it behind the wainscots 
of the house, and was afraid either to leave or to 
take it with him. Others said that the house 
was haunted by the ghost of its former possessor, 
and that no one but Jacob Quarle would live in 
it. The house being flush with the street the 
boys were fond of peeping in at the windows, 
and trying if they could find out any of the mys- 
teries of the habitation ; and, of course, if they 
heard the rats scampering behind the walls, or in 
the evening gloom caught sight of a bat flitting 
through the room, it was set down at once to be 
the spirit which in common with Jacob Quarle 
tenanted the old house. I think Tom was in- 
clined to believe some of these stories. I know 
Dick did ; and often of an evening, when work 
was over, and their master allowed them to go 
out for a run, they might be seen flattening their 
noses against the window-panes, and trying 
to find out something of the ghost's move- 

Tom's month of trial was soon over, and as he 
was quite willing to become duly apprenticed to 


Seth Wilkins,the indentures were signed, and after 
one day spent at Ambrose Dunstone's in com- 
pany with little Jack, Tom became, in common 
with Dick, a permanent inmate of the carpenter's 



EACOB QUARLE had a dc^, an ugly ill- 
favoured thing, but of which the old man 
seemed very fond, inasmuch as he was never seen 
without it. He did not feed it very well ; but then, 
he half starved himself, so that it was not to be 
wondered at if he did not give the dog sufficient 
food ; still the animal seemed to watch and un- 
derstand his owner's slightest look, loving him in- 
deed with an affection that might more fitly have 
been given to a bettermaster, Butthe poorcreature 
was not very popular in the town on account of its 
very fidelity ; and then it was an ugly dog, of no 
particular breed, and, the market-women said, a 
thief, while the boys declared it was vicious, and 
would bite if it only had the chance. Not that 
any boy could ever say it had bitten Viim -, aud is. 


would not have been much to be wondered at if 
it had, for it was constantly being pelted, cuffed, 
and kicked by every one who came near it. Poor 
Shock when thus attacked would snarl and show 
his teeth, but never did anything worse, let his 
provocation be as great as it might. Tom 
soon knew the dog by sight as well as he did its 
master, and once or twice interfered to prevent 
the other boys ill-using it. As he said, the dumb 
thing could not help its owner, and was much the 
best behaved brute of the two ; and Shock seemed 
to know that Tom had stood his friend, and once 
or twice left his master for awhile, and tried 
humbly to attract Tom's notice. But this was 
in vain. Tom would have nothing further to do 
with him than to protect him, if he could, from 
ill-usage. He was Jacob Quark's dog, after all ; 
Tom could not forget tluit 

One evening, at the beginning of March, when 
Tom had been about five months at Seth Wil- 
kins's, Dick and he having knocked off their work 
early were told that they might run out for an 
hour before tea. They lost no time in availing 
themselves of the permission ; and away they 
ran to a spot where they were sure to meet some 
of their friends coming from school. This was a 
large open space, just outside the town, and a 
wtry short distance from the schoo\\ ^xA\l'Cs^ft► 


boys got let out in time enough they liked stop- 
ping here for a game before they ran home to 
their tea, and on summer evenings would spend 
hours together on it, enjoying cricket and foot- 
ball. At one comer of this piece of land were a 
cluster of wretched cottages, looking as if they 
could scarcely hold together another twelve- 
month, with the thatch half off of the roofs, the 
windows stuffed with rags or mended with brown 
paper, the palings of the gardens rotten with 
decay, and everything about them looking un- 
utterably sordid and miserable. Nobody knew 
to whom these cottages belonged ; but they were 
said to have been built in the time of Charles I., 
and they were called " The Keyhole Freehold,'' 
owing to there being a legend respecting them, 
that the possession of a key of any one of the 
house doors gave a right of tenancy to that 
dwelling. Certain it was that no one paid any 
rent ; and that each inmate, whatever else he 
might be careless over, took excellent care of the 
key. But it is not with these cottages or their 
inhabitants that I have to do at present, but with 
a small enclosed piece of land by the side of the 
last one, and which was used in common by the 
occupants of all as a drying-ground. 

At one corner of this ground was a well, which 
partially supplied the cottages with water. It 


was not very deep, nor was the water very good, 
and it was generally covered by some old moul- 
dering planks. This evening the boys had found 
a fresh way of amusing themselves, and this was 
torturing poor Shock. Some of them had espied 
him sitting outside a door, waiting for his master, 
who had gone in to collect some rent that was 
owing to him — ^several of the best houses in the 
town belonging to Jacob Quarle. They captured 
the dog, and fastening a rope round his neck 
dragged him towards Keyhole Freehold, and 
turning him into the drying-ground, began pelt- 
ing him with sticks and stones. Some other 
boys soon joined them, and the miserable dog 
was chased and driven from one side to the 
other, while quite unable to escape from his 
assailants. It was a cruel game — but boys arc 
cruel creatures ; as if there was not wretchedness 
enough in the world without their making more ! 
— and the more the poor creature barked and 
howled, and struggled to escape, the more 
pitilessly they laughed, and the more persevcr- 
ingly they prevented his leaping over the palings. 
Tom and Dick came up when they were in the 
height of their amusement, and I am sorry to say 
the latter joined in it, appearing to consider it 
excellent fun. 
Tom remonstrated with the boys, but they 


only laughed at him, and round and round the 
enclosure poor Shock went, trying all in vain to 
escape from his tormentors. Presently he flew 
to the comer by which was the well, and sprang 
on to the cover, thinking to leap over the palings 
that way, as it was least guarded ; but the 
wretched woodwork gave way beneath him, and 
down the poor creature went into the water. 
Some of the boys set up a shout, " WeVe done 
for him at last !" while others began to feel sorry 
for the animal they had thus hunted to its death 
in their thoughtless sport. Some of these, and 
Tom amongst them, sprang over the palings, and 
ran up to the side* of the well, where they could 
hear the dog below whining pitifully and making 
unavailing efforts as it swam in the water, which 
was seldom above three feet deep, to climb up 
the well. 

" Lower the rope," said Tom ; " and if it has 
the sense to get into the pail we'll haul it up." 

The boys did so ; there was scarcely one 
among them who was not as eager now to save 
the dog as he had before been to torment it to 
the uttermost. But poor Shock did not seem able 
to understand why the rope was lowered ; he only 
moaned still more, and they could still hear him 
trying vainly to ascend the sides of the well. 
Presently Jacob Quarle was amongst tlvem. He 


had missed his dog when he came into the street, 
and after a little time finding where it had been 
taken, hurried anxiously after it. He was a 
sordid, miserable wretch, but he loved that dog, 
and now finding it was in the well, he stood 
lamenting, and begging the boys to go down and 
save it 

" ril give twopence — threepence — sixpence ! 
there ! to any one that does," he cried. 

** Why do you not go down yourself if you're so 
fond of him ?" asked Dick. 

" I'm old— old," cried Quarle, shivering and 
drawing his miserable garments closer round 
him, " and the water's very cold, and I should be 
heavy for you boys to pull up. I'd rather give 
the sixpence to one of you. Wont you earn it ?" 
he added, addressing Dick, who looked more 
good-natured than the rest. 

"-I would if it was any one's dog but yours," 
replied Dick. 

" Won't you for a shilling — a shilling, mind, to 
any one that goes down and brings me up my 
dog alive ! Alive, mind," cried Quarle, " a shil- 
ling ! Two, then, two I" he repeated, as the dog's 
cries and struggles became more urgent. " Two 
shillings — three ! — four ! — five !" he almost 
shrieked, and fell on his knees ; " five — ^five bright 
good silver shillings to any one that \)tvtv^^ tcv& 


up my dog. Oh, boys ! wont one of you go down 
and save poor Shock ?" He' held up his hands 
imploringly in his agony. Tom looked at him 
and hesitated. The man had been hard and 
pitiless to his dear father, and was a mean 
sordid wretch, but his trouble was very great, 
and the poor dog, after all, had done nothing 
to deserve death ; another second and Tom 
threw off his jacket, and shouted, "Who'll hold 
the rope .?— I'll go !" 

There were plenty ready to say they would 
draw him up, and fastening the rope round his 
waist, Tom went, and was slowly lowered into 
the well. He soon had hold of the poor dog, 
and in another minute both were drawn up 
safely. Jacob flung his arms round Shock, and 
the animal licked his master's face with joy at 
seeing him again. Tom stood looking on, 
wondering how so hard and sordid a nature as 
Jacob Quarle's could feel love for anything. Pre- 
sently Jacob remembered his debt, and pulling 
out his shabby purse began counting out the 

" Five shillings ! — five shillings ! Dear, dear ! 
— ^it's a sum. To think of your earning it like 
that, in a minute !" 

" And running the chance of breaking his neck 
in doing it," said Dick. " Why did you not go 


down yourself, old boy, and save the five shillings, 
if you think so much about it ?" 

" Mind you see that they're good ones, Tom," 
cried Harry Swain ; " he'll cheat you else." 

" I say, Tom, give us a tuck-out at Dobbin's 
with part of the tin," cried some of the boys ; 
" you ought to stand treat after such a slice of 
good luck." 

Tom paid little attention to all they said, but 
he took the money from Quarle, counted it over, 
and tested it with his teeth. 

" They're good — they're good," mumbled the 
old man ; " I never passed bad money in my life." 

" Let you alone for doing it if you had the 
chance," cried Dick, while Tom thoughtfully 
weighed the money in his hand, and stood with 
a darkening face looking at it ; then he turned to 

" I'm Reuben Dunstone's boy, and I would not 
take a penny from you if I was starving ! Take 
back your money, and much good may it do you." 

Then he flung it full in Quarle's face, and 
walked sullenly away with Dick and Harry 
Swain, while the old miser stooped and picked 
up the money, muttering, " Foolish fellow ! 
foolish fellow ! to fling good money away like 
this. Come, Shock, poor dog, and let's go home 
to supper." 


ERSOM found the summer a pleasanter time 
BS than he had expected. If he could not 
have the fun of making hay himself, it was the 
next thing to it, he thought, working at the 
rakes and forks for others to make it with. 
Sometimes Dick and he had to labour long and 
late at this, but Seth Wilkins was a good master, 
and if the boys had extra work at one time, he 
always tried to make it up to them at another,and 
every now and then there was a whole loi^ after- 
noon to be spent in cricket or football ; and in 
the summer evenings they had time for other 
games when work was over. And then there 
were the drives with the horse and cart ; when 
Seth could spare them both he would let them 
go tt^ether, to take home the hay-making im- 
plements they had helped to make,or the hurdles 
they had put together. 


As these drives were mostly to farm -houses, Tom 
found himself in his own element again, and was 
fondbf showing Dick that he knew as much about 
farming as the other about carpentering. These 
were pleasant visits too in other ways ; the good 
wives of the farms were always hospitable, and 
made the boys partake of farm-house fare and 
home-made cider; and some of them had 
known Tom's parents, and would be very kind to 
him for their sake ; and it cheered Tom up to 
hear the way they spoke of his father and mother^ 
and he felt stronger and braver than ever when 
he found how those dear dead ones were still 
lovingly remembered and respected, for all the 
troubles of the latter days ; and he made up 
his mind more firmly than ever to get a home 
for himself and little Jack, and, God willing, pay 
off every penny yet his father owed to every 
creditor, especially old Jacob Quarle. 

" There's five shillings rubbed off his debt," 
said Dick, when Tom once communicated his 
project to him ; " though perhaps you did not 
pay it back in the civilest way. Never fear, 
you'll rub off all the score in time. Fair and 
softly goes far in a day." 

Now and then of a Sunday Tom got up early 
and went to see " Peculiar," spending the whole 
long day at Boreham, and going to theo\d^^x\^ 


church with Ambrose Dunstone and his wife, with 
his little brother's hand in his. Those were 
blessed days ; they did not come very often — for 
Mrs. Dunstone was not very fond of visitors, and 
she quite looked upon Tom as one now — ^and 
therefore all the more precious. How Jack used to 
look forward to his brother's coming ! Counting 
the days at the beginning of the week, and then, 
on the last day of all, the hours, falling to sleep 
on the Saturday night with the thought that he 
should see Tom the next morning, and waking 
early and running to the gate to keep watch for 
his coming. Mr. Ambrose might call Jack in, 
but it was useless ; he would turn round and 
simply remark, ** I'm looking for Tom," as if that 
was quite sufficient to prevent his being expected 
to eat his breakfast, give the fowls theirs, chase 
the pigs out of the potato garden, tell Uncle Am- 
brose the porridge was ready, or do anything 
else that might be required of him. On other 
days he was obedient enough, and for a small 
fellow very handy, having quick sharp eyes of 
his own to see what was wanted, and ready little 
hands to do it with ; but on " Tom's Sundays/' 
as he called them, every thought was given to 
his brother ; even the rain would not cause him 
to leave his post by the garden gate till Tom 
came up, when he would spring upon hitn^ fling 


his arms round his neck, and cover his brown 
face with kisses, laughing and crowing with de- 
light. Then he would slide his own little paw 
into Tom's and lead him up to the house, when 
he would fling the door wide open and march 
in with sparkling eyes and head erect, saying, in 
an authoritative voice, " Tom*s come, and wants 
his breakfast." 

One morning a thunderstorm came on when 
Jack was waiting at the gate for his brother. 
Down came the big heavy drops, thick and fast. 
Mrs. Ambrose went to the door and called the 
child in ; Jack made no reply. If Mrs. Ambrose 
had been near enough she would have seen that 
he looked exceedingly sulky at being told to 
leave his post, as he considered it a most un- 
reasonable thing of Mrs. Ambrose to require of 
him ; but the idea of complying with the sum- 
mons never crossed his mind. He waited on, 
though Mrs. Ambrose flung her apron over her 
head and ran half way down the path to tell 
him to come in. Jack gave her a look of in- 
dignant surprise, but vouchsafed no further reply ; 
and flnding the rain come faster than was plea- 
sant, she ran in, threatening Jack with the loss 
of his breakfast for disobedience. After a while 
however. Jack finding the rain come through his 
clothes to his very skin, clambered up \tv\.o ^.ti 


apple-tree a yard or so from the gate, and there 
he remained till he saw his brother coming along 
protected by a stout cotton umbrella, which for- 
tunately for him Mrs. Wilkins had insisted on 
his carrying, as the sky looked threatening. Tom 
did not expect to see Jack till he got to the 
house, and was not a little surprised to find him- 
self clasped by a small pair of damp arms, while 
a wet little face was pressed close to his own. 
Jack's legs and arms indeed were both round 
Tom, and the other carried him in under his 
umbrella, when Mrs. Ambrose began again to 
scold Jack, pouring out his porridge the while ; 
but instead of telling him now he should have no 
breakfast, she contented herself with saying he 
did not deserve to have any, and desiring him to 
go and put on dry clothes directly. Jack moved* 
off to do her bidding, looking as if he thought 
her a most unreasonable person to find fault 
with him, and muttering in reply, " I was looking 
for Tom." 

When autumn came, Dick and Tom had half 
a day given them for nutting, and now and then 
they had a couple of hours for blackberrying, 
but as the evenings grew longer, Tom felt the 
want of books more and more — ^felt it in a 
way that boys living in an age when books can 
be had so cheaply, and the very best of all some- 


times the cheapest, cannot realize. Seth Wilkins 
had not an extensive library ; there was " Fox's 
Book of Martyrs" on the book-shelves in the 
kitchen, which Dick used to delight in on Sun- 
days ; and the " Pilgrim's Progress," which Tom 
preferred He used to picture himself, as he 
read it, going on Christian's journey, with little 
Jack by his side. He believed it all literally, 
and thought he could have conquered Giant 
Despair, or even Apollyon, with Peculiar looking 
on, though how he should have struggled through 
the slough of Despond with Jack to help through 
it, puzzled him. And there were Cowper's 
Poems — Dick knew "John Gilpin" by heart — and 
a book of ballads out of which Tom learnt 
** Chevy Chase" to repeat to Jack ; and these 
were nearly all excepting the " Whole Duty of 
Man," and one or two others of the kind, which, 
though Mr. Wilkins recommended them very 
xnuch to the boys, neither Dick nor Tom especi- 
ally delighted in. Books were very dear then, 
but occasionally Seth Wilkins gave the boys a 
sixpence when they had been unusually diligent, 
and Tom would save up his share till he had 
acquired enough to make a purchase at a second- 
hand book-stall in the town. Jack used to delight 
in reading ; and it was even more on his account 
than \ns own that Tom made these ipvitOc^'a.^^^ 



though he always made a point of reading them 
through, for he felt that he had very little learn- 
ing, and that it would be as well to acquire as 
much more as he could. 

When Christmas was drawing near, Tom began 
to wonder anxiously whether Ambrose Dun- 
stone would ask him to his house to eat his 
Christmas dinner, and was agreeably surprised 
when his mistress told him he might ask his 
little brother to spend the day with him. In- 
deed, she said he might come the day before if 
Ambrose Dunstone would bring him over, and 
Tom should take him home the day afterwards. 
How Tom thanked her ! but she told him he 
owed the treat to the minister, Mr. Dennes, who 
had asked it for him. Dick was to go on Christ- 
mas morning to his grandfather's, who lived ten 
miles off, though Dick would rather have stayed 
at the master's ; for, as he told Tom, his grand- 
father was a " regular old screw," and the pudding 
he should partake of would be nothing to the 
one the mistress had made a fortnight ago, and 
which was hanging up in the kitchen ready for 
its final boil on Christmas-day. The minister 
was to dine at the master's, so although Tom 
was to lose Dick, he felt sure that he should have 
a happy day, and sat down, the evening after 
Mrs. Wilkins had told him he might invite his 


little brother, to write to Ambrose Dunstone, 
and ask if he could bring " Peculiar" over to 

What a labour that letter was, to be sure ! 
Tom was no great scholar. You must remem- 
ber he was hardly thirteen when his father's 
troubles came upon him, and when, of course, he 
had to leave school ; and although a good boy 
and a clever one in many things, " book learning," 
as he called it, was not one that he most shone 
in. As I have told you, he' did his best to repair 
his deficiencies by buying what few books he 
could, and getting as much out of them as possible. 
But it was not easy work for him. Farming, 
carpentering, riding, driving, all these things 
were much more in Tom's line than books or 
pen and ink, and Tom knew it, and wished he 
was more clever with them, fearing that all his 
life, try as he would, he should feel the want of 
the " book learning," which as a boy he had 
so little opportunity of acquiring. But Tom had 
better things in his favour after all than even the 
advantages the schools could have given him. 
He was brave, and honest, and true ; and, though 
by no means a proud or boastful boy, full of self- 
reliance and quiet energy, with much of his 
mother's gentle, loving spirit in him. Not a boy 
at all to be despised, my young friends — who go 


to the London University and King's College, or 
even to such " swell " places as Eton, Rugby, 
and Harrow — though he knew not a word of 
Latin, was wofully ignorant of many things that 
you pride yourselves upon being well acquainted 
with, and spoke, like many of his friends, with a 
Somersetshire accent, which I have not thought 
it worth while to attempt to bring before you 
here. No, «not a boy to be despised at all, as 
he sat there, forming his large, queer letters and 
misspelling his words, and every now and then,, 
as awkward writers will, blotting the sheet of 
letter-paper before him. The epistle was con- 
cluded at last, and Tom posted it, paying the 
twopence for it himself, for fear Ambrose Dun- 
stone should refuse to do so. 

Little Jack was delighted when he found howhe 
was to spend his Christmas ; for, as Ambrose was 
to go to Bridgetown the day before, he readily 
promised Jack to take him there too ; and ac- 
cordingly, on the morning of Christmas Eve, 
Jack startled Seth and Dick, who were in the 
workshop alone — Tom having gone out of an 
errand — by running in there, and shouting at the 
top of his voice, " Where's my brother V* 

Tom was soon in again, and Jack sprang into 

his arms, and the two hugged each other, and 

laughed, and almost cried witli joy a\. Vive met.V 


ing. Dick A^'as very glad to sec Jack, he had 
heard so much of him from Tom, and Seth Wil- 
kins was so pleased by the child's affection for 
his brother, that he looked even more unhappy 
than usual, took the little fellow by the hand, 
and telling him he had better come to the mistress, 
as he would want seeing to after his long journey, 
led him into the bright, warm kitchen, where 
Mrs. Wilkins gave him a glass of ginger wine and 
a large piece of cake ; and as, by the time he had 
finished it, she had concluded her morning's work, 
took up her knitting, and asking Jack if he could 
read, was surprised when he took up an old 
newspaper which had been lent her, and began 
reading its contents aloud so well, that she told 
Tom when he came in with Wilkins and Dick to 
dinner, "the minister himself could not have 
done it better." 

"Ah, he's a clever fellow," said Tom. "Ain't 
you, Jack ?" 

Jack nodded. He liked to be praised, and 
was rather proud of his reading. After dinner 
he had to read to the master, who was as much 
pleased with him as his wife had been. But 
Jack forgot his gravity, and shouted and capered 
when Mr. Wilkins said that, as Tom and Dick 
had worked so well the last few days, they should 
have a half-holiday that afternoon, and t^^'^^O*. 


out with them. This was glorious. Tom wished 
he could have found words with which to thank 
the master for his kindness, and was quite angry 
with himself that he could find nothing better to 
say than " Thank you, sir." Poor Tom was often 
angry with himself for not being clever, and never 
knowing the right words to say. Dick was told 
that he might go to his grandfather's that after- 
noon, instead of leaving it till the morning ; but 
Dick declined, with a half chuckle. He was in 
no such hurry, he told Tom when they were 
alone, to get over to grandfather's. The old man 
never did anything but find fault with him when 
he got there, and was nearly as great a miser as 
old Quarle, only it was right, he supposed, to 
go over to the old man now and then, as he was 
the only one left belonging to him. But this 
afternoon Dick started off in high glee with Tom 
and little Jack, intending to have a good after- 
noon's sliding and skating with them. They 
passed by old Quarle's house, and Dick looked 
up at it. 

" Don't see a sign of smoke from one of the 
chimneys, Tom. I expect the old man lies in 
bed all day to save firing. I should like to 
know what he's got for his Christmas dinner 
*'Hush ! here he comes, and Yvis do^ \idcimd 


him," said Tom. " He's going marketing — he's 
got an old basket with him." 

Quarle came creeping along, looking pinched 
and blue and nipped up by the cold. His coat 
was so old and threadbare as to be scarcely any 
protection from the bitter frost ; and he cowered 
beneath the cold wind, shivering wofully. His 
dog ran up to Tom, recognising him as a friend, 
and the old man paused when he came near the 
boys, saying, " Ugh ! — it's terrible weather for 
old bones, my lads." 

" Put a good warm coat on then," cried Dick, 
" and thee won't feel it, old fellow ; or if you'll 
give me five shillings Fll write you a prescription 
for it, and it's very good medicine, only you 
must get it made up by the butcher and the 

Old Quarle made some inaudible reply, and 
went on his way. Dick's prescription would 
have been too expensive a one for his fancy ; 
and the three boys ran on, now and then taking 
a slide in a gutter, or saluting a friend by throw- 
ing a snowball at him. Presently they met 
Harry Swain and one or two others, and of 
course then there was a regular encounter with ^ 
snowballs, even little Jack doing his part man- 
fully, and making up tiny pellets and throwing; 
them with all his might at all wVvo tYvtew ^XT^^tcv. 


They were not very long at this game ; for 
Harry Swain and the others with him were 
going to skate on the river which flowed a little 
distance from the town ; so they were all soon 
tired of snowballing, and hastened along with 
Dick and Tom to the river bank. 

" Didn't I stand by you, Tom ?" said Jack, as 
they went on ; " didn't I snowball the fellows 
well that hit you ?'' 

" To be sure you did, Peculiar, and you always 
will, won't you ?" replied Tom. 

" Always, Tom, always^-see if I don't ;" and 
then Jack comforted himself by climbing up 
Tom, and giving him a thorough good hug and' 
rubbing his little cold nose against his brother's 
cheeks, after which Jack felt very much refreshed, 
and able to snowball the whole world, if need be, 
in Tom's defence. 

It was thorough Christmas weather, the snow 
lay in great heaps by the side of the paths, where 
it had become hardened sCnd trodden down. The 
river was frozen over, and the boys looked for- 
ward to some glorious skating. Some of them 
had been cautioned by their mothers to be care- 
ful how they ventured on the ice ; but when did 
boys ever heed such cautions ? The river, they 
said, at this part was hardly deep enough to 


drown a cat ; and as to the ice, why it had been 


firm enough for a week. No fear of any harm 
happening to them. 

Whether the river was deep or not, it was cer- 
tainly very narrow at one part, but that was a little 
distance from the place where the boys were going 
to skate, and here a small foot-bridge had been 
erected, and an old woman, who lived in a cottage 
by it, had the privilege of demanding a penny 
toll from every passenger. She had given up all 
thoughts of taking much to-day — if people could 
walk across on the ice they would never pay her a 
penny for going by the bridge, and old Quarlc 
was certainly not the person to do so. He had 
a little business to transact on the other side of 
the river, and if he could have gone over by the 
bridge for nothing, would have preferred doing 
so, for the ice was slippery, and he was afraid of 
being run down by some of the skaters ; but he 
would much rather risk a fall than spend a 
penny, and so he came to the river-side, looking 
anxiously out for an opportunity to cross it 
safely. The boys saw him when they came 
running up from their game of snowballs, and a 
bright idea struck Harry Swain. 

" Here's old Quarle ! All ready for a game at 
snowballing } Let's pepper him well, lads. Now» 
old fellow, look out — we're going to begin." 

" Good boys — ^good boys, let me alone !" cried 


Quarle, piteously. "rmtoo old for such rough 
play. Let me go on my business in peace." 

" No, no, you're not a bit too old," cried the 
boys. " Throw at him, Tom ; pelt him well, 
Dick. Now, old fellow, throw back again !" 

" I can't — I can't," moaned Quarle. " Good 
boys — good boys, let me go on in peace." 

" Hark at him ! — ^what a row he's making !" 
cried some of the boys. " Throw at his nose — 
stop his mouth when he opens it. That's right. 
Bill ; one for his nob and two for his heels !" 

The old man turned from one side to the other, 
the balls hitting him in every part of his person. ' 
Tom had not joined his assailants, but stood, with 
Peculiar by his side, looking on. It was good fun, 
that young gentleman thought — ^why should he 
not join in it, and why not Tom } Perhaps he 
didn't like the trouble of making a ball for him- 
self ; never mind. Jack would make one for him. 
He stooped down, and with his tiny hands made 
two the size of walnuts, and then handed one to 
his brother. 

" Go at him, Tom ; hit him hard and make him 
sing out." 

" No, no," said Tom, " put the balls down. 
Jack ; I don't like snowballing an old man like 
'' Well, he is old," said PecuWat •, " axvd what 


do you let the others shy at him for? Why, 
Tom, I do believe he*s getting away." 

Tom looked at Quarle, and saw he was trying 
to escape the boys and cross the river, but they 
hemmed him in on every side, and the balls came 
faster than ever. Tom ran up and placed him- 
self before him." 

" He*s an old fellow, boys ; let him go." 

" Stuff, Tom, youVe always sticking up for 
him. Get away, do, and don't stand in the way." 

" Yes, I shall ; it isn't right to serve him so. 
Jack says it isn't." 

" Yes, I do," cried Jack, now hoisted up on his 
brother's shoulder ; " and Tom and I don't mean 
to let you do it either. JDo we, Tom ?" 

There was a laugh at this, and the boys let the 
mannikin have it his own way, and told Quarle 
he might go on his, and the old man was not 
long in availing himself of their permission, but 
crossed the river as rapidly as his feeble limbs 
would allow him ; and the boys put on their 
skates, those at least who had them, while those 
who had not contented themselves with sliding. 
Jack got on very well, — a great many of the 
boys had invested their spare pence in pepper- 
mint-drops and gingerbread-nuts, and every now 
and then one or the other of these dainties was 
poked in Jack's mouth, or thrust itvto otv^ ol V\^ 


hands, with a " Here, young one, take that," and 
Jack directly bit it in half and offered one part 
to his brother, and if Tom refused to take it, 
watched his opportunity and quietly slipped it 
into his pocket. Then Tom took hold of the little 
one's hand, and they had a slide together ; then 
Jack got bold, and had a small slide on his own 
account, and got back to the bank looking quite 
proud of the achievement. And so an hour passed 
on till old Quarle was seen returning with his 
basket on his arm, and the boys crowded around 
him, anxious to know what he had been buying 
for his Christmas dinner. 

Is it a turkey and sausages V^ asked one. 

No, no, it's a sucking-pig," shouted another, 

"* I hear it squeaking ;" and directly he began to 

do his best to squeak like the animal he spoke of. 

This was a brilliant idea, and was instantly 

followed up. 

" It's a goose !" shouted one, and began hissing 
his loudest. 

" No, it's mutton ; don't you hear it baa ?" 
" It's beef, I'm sure, by the bellowing." 
"No, it's ducks ; don't you hear them quack.?" 
And the boys squeaked, and hissed, and baaed, 
and bellowed, and quacked round the old man 
till he hardly knew which way to turn for the* 
noise. Little Jack came to the rescue. 




" There you are again ! Can*t you let the old 
fellow be in peace ?" he shouted, at the top of 
his small voice. 

The boys drew back, laughing. "Here's 
Tom's big brother calling us to order. He'll 
thrash us all if we don't mind what we're 

Quarle might have got on quietly now had it 
not been for one young gentleman, whose mamma 
would have been quite horrified had she known 
that he was on the ice with a parcel of trades- 
men's sons and their apprentices. This was 
Master Frederick Jefferies, the doctor's son, first 
cousin to Tom and Jack, and about a year older 
than the former. Both knew him well by sight, 
and indeed some years ago Master Frederick 
had been very well pleased to come to the farm 
on a visit, and had given little Jack many a ride 
on his shoulder ; but that was all over now, and 
Master Frederick had been much too well brought 
up by his mamma to think of recognising any 
carpenter's apprentice as his relation. He now 
came up to Quarle, though the others had de- 
sisted, and lifting the lid of the basket, tried to 
peep in. 

" Why I do believe that's Fred, and he's going 
to steal the old man's dinner !" shouted Jack, his 
little face aflame with virtuous indignation ; and 


he ran up to his gentleman cousin, — " I say, 
Fred, don't be a thief!" 

Fred's gentility took the alarm. To think of 
this shabby little boy, brother to Seth Wilkins's 
apprentice, calling him by his Christian name. 
" Get away, you little rascal !" he said, angrily, 
and gave Jack a push which, whether intention- 
ally or not, had the effect of sending the little 
fellow flat on the ice. Tom's blood was up 
directly. No one should ill-use Jack with im- 
punity while he was by. 

" How dare you ?" he cried, angrily, and struck 
his cousin. It was a word and a blow, and the 
blow came first. Fred looked ready to cry. 
Fighting was not much in his line, at least when 
the assailants were boys of his own size. He 
turned away, trying to put the best face he could 
on the matter, muttering " Low fellow !" 

" Hit him again, Tom ! Give it him well ! 
He's a sneak ! He daren't hit back ! Go at 
him, little Jack ; punish him well for knocking 
you down !" 

" No, I sha'n't," said Jack, looking very sulky ; 
" and I won't let Tom, either. He isn't worth 

This seemed Tom's own opinion, for seeing 

that Master Frederick was disposed to put up 

with the blow he had received, Tom let him go. 


and taking little Jack by the hand, went sliding 
away. Then Jack said he should like to slide 
by himself, and Harry Swain offering to lend 
Tom his skates, the latter began making good 
use of them, and cutting figures-of-eight in very 
fair style. Old Quarle meanwhile was proceed- 
ing across the river by himself, anxious to be 
free from the boys, when he heard a suspicious 
crack in the ice beneath him. 

The old man trembled. " If it should give 
way before I reach the other side," he thought. 
"I wish rd gone by the bridge. There it is 
again ! I shall be drowned — drowned ! To 
think of it, after spending all this money ! Here, 
Shock !" He gave the basket to his dog, who 
took it in his mouth, and was soon with it on the 
other side, and his master went forward with 
more confidence now he had only himself to 
think of 

Another step and he heard another crack, and 
felt the ice give way beneath him. At that in- 
stant a sharp, shrill cry struck on his ear, and 
turning his head he saw a sight that for a mo- 
ment made even him forget his own personal 
danger. The ice had broken in the very part 
where the boys were most numerous, and in the 
very midst of their frolics they found themselves 
in deadJ>^ and terrible peril. There lYvey V4^x^» 


battling for dear life in the cold treacherous 
^ater, with the blocks of ice, which but a moment 
before had been their playground, hemming them 
in on every side, and adding to their danger. 
Then there were cries and prayers for help, in- 
:stead of the boisterous jests and laughter that 
had resounded in the air but a minute before ; 
•cries so woful and so fearful that once heard 
they could never be forgotten ; groans of horror, 
as the death-cold water froze the young blood 
that just now had been bounding so merrily ; 
hands stretched out frantically, in the vain hope 
of finding something to hold by, if only for a 
moment ; faces whose very lips were white with 
dread, and childish eyes looking wildly round to 
see if there was no help near in the dread struggle 
that they had to wage. 

And all boys too ! Not a grown man among 
them. Boys, with mothers at home watching 
for their return, and wondering, may be, what 
kept them late. From more than one Tom 
heard the vain cry "Mother,*' and Tom wondered, 
if he called on his, whether she, in heaven, would 
bear and send help to little Jack in his peril. 
Tom himself was in no imminent danger as it 
was. The ice had given way underneath him, 
^nd he was up to his armpits in water, hemmed 
//2 too by blocks of ice, so that it v^as impossible 


for him to do anything for his own escape or to 
facilitate that of others. But by flinging himself 
forward on the main body of the ice which was 
just before him, he knew he should be able to keep 
up for a time, while others were in instant need 
of help. Little Jack had fallen down in a sitting 
position, and was floating about on a large block 
of ice, and Tom called out to him — " Keep quiet, 
Jack — keep where you are till help comes. I see 
where you are." 

Jack nodded. Tom saw him, and he saw Tom, 
which was a great comfort under present circum- 
stances. Then Tom shouted for help with all his 
lungs, and old Quarle did so too, in his feeble, 
quavering voice, and the old woman came out of 
her cottage by the bridge, and shrieked to heaven 
for mercy when she saw the struggle going on in 
the water, and then, like a brave old soul as she 
was, set to work to sec what she could do to 

There was a small pleasure-boat kept in a shed 

>y the side of her cottage by a gentleman, who 

sed it occasionally to row upon the river. She 

ot this out. It is wonderful what strength 

e sometimes find when we most need it. And 

Id Quarle, having by this time tottered to the 

nk, she bade him get in it with her, atvd ^\is3c\. 

xmongst the blocks of ice, to save as maty^ aa 

¥ 2 


they could. But the old man only shook his 
hands in helplessness — ^shook and shivered and 
trembled, so that she angrily bade him go into 
her cottage, and keep a good fire to warm the 
poor creatures when she brought them to it. But 
help was at hand. Four or five labourers were 
going home, and two got in the boat, the others 
walking by the river side to help those who were 
nearest to it. Then old Winny Trip went her- 
self to her cottage, heaped up her fire, put her 
two thin blankets before it, and filled her kettle, 
and then hurried down to the river side to bring 
in any who might be rescued. 

One of the men had waded into the river up to 
his shoulders, and brought out a small boy of 
eight years old just as he was sinking under the 
ice for the last time. The little fellow was cold 
and speechless, but Winny Trip soon had him by 
her fire, rubbing and chafing his limbs, and be- 
fore long he was able to ask for his mother. 

" Ah, mother indeed," said Winny ; " what was 
she about to let you go on the ice by yourself,, 
child ?" 

" Didn't know I went — told me not to go,'* 

sobbed the child ; upon which Winny was about 

to preach him a sermon upon disobedience, when 

It was cut short by the entry of two more of the 

labourers, each carrying a boy axvd leading 


another. Winny had her hands full ; but fortu- 
tunately, seeing that old Quarlc could be of no 
use in rescuing the drowning, as soon as she 
found herself at liberty to attend to her fire her- 
self she had despatched him to a gentleman's 
house, five minutes' walk from her own, and the 
mistress of it came hurrying down, followed by 
her servants, bringing blankets and brandy for 
the sufferers. There was enough for all to do ; 
and old Quarle, after looking anxiously round 
and not perceiving Tom, went down by the river 
side in the hope of finding him. It was not long 
before he saw Tom, not very far from the shore, 
but so hemmed in with ice that it was difficult to 
reach him. Nor did Tom wish as yet that any 
one should attempt to do so. On the contrary, 
he kept pointing out others of his companions 
who were in more imminent danger than himself, 
to the men in the boat. They had just taken 
little Jack in as old Quarle came up to the river, 
but the only thanks that young gentleman gave 
them were the half intelligible words — for he was 
so cold he could hardly speak — " Why don't you 
see after Tom ?" 

Then, half frozen as he was, he scowled sulkily 
at his deliverers for not having thought of his 
brother before himself. 

" Hurrah, Jack r cried Tom. ** 1cL\3itv m \.ci>Ow^ 


old woman's and get warm, that's a good boy f 
I'll soon be after you/' 

Jack was placed on shore, and the men rowed 
out again. Tom's limbs were beginning to feel 
numbed and dead with the bitter cold of the 
water, but he bore up bravely yet. 

" There's Harry Swain J" he cried, " holding- 
on by the ice over there. He can't keep up- 
much longer ; and there's little Bill Tuckett 
near him. Make haste ; he's such a little fel- 

Another second and Bill Tuckett, a very small 
boy indeed, would have relaxed his hold of the 
ice and dropped beneath ; and Harry Swain's 
powers of endurance were becoming almost 
exhausted ; but they were taken into the boat, 
and then the men steered their way as best they 
might amongst the blocks of ice, and took two- 
more up who, like little Jack, had saved them- 
selves by floating on them. 

" Why don't you see after Tom V* said Harry 
Swain, when they had got him in. " That's him 
over there.'^ 

The men looked in the direction he pointed. 

" Ah, he's a good 'un, a real good 'un," one of 
them said, " and has been thinking of every one 
but himself; but how be we to get at him r 

'* He's wedged ia the ice> and who's to tread 


on it to reach him ?" said the other. " As like 
as not it'll break as soon as a foot's set on it." 

Harry would have answered their questions 
by going himself. Let the ice be safe to venture 
on or not, he was not the boy to think of that 
when his friend's life was in peril. But his limbs 
were so stiff that he could scarcely walk, and he 
was half-dragged, half-carried by one of the men 
to Winny Trip's cottage. He met Dick on the 
way. He had been one of the first saved, and 
having warmed himself by Winny Trip's fire^ 
was running back to see if he could be of help- 
to others. 

" See after Tom, Dick," Harry moaned, feebly ;. 
and Dick hastened to do so. 

" Tom ! Tom ! where are you V he shouted^ 
and Tom replied— 

" Here !" 

" He's fixed," said Dick, looking ruefully at 
his friend's position ; " and it wont be easy ta 
get at him either." 

He ran up to the men — " Can't you do some- 
thing for Tom out there } He'll be friz to death 
if you don't look sharp." 

Old Quarle came up with the same question. 
" Hadn't the men a rope } Couldn't one of 
them go on the ice and cut Tom out of it ?" 

" How was a rope to be thrown so as to reach 



Tom ?" they asked him ; " and as to going on 
the ice, it was sure to break under them if they 
did. The little 'un was a fine fellow, but " 

" You don't mean to say you're going to stand 
by and see him drowned before your eyes ?" 
cried Dick. " If there was only a rope Vd go 
across myself to him. Oh, Tom ! Tom ! to 
stand by and see you die like this !" And Dick 
stamped the ground in passion at his own help- 
lessness, while the bitter tears stood in his eyes. 
Then he ran off, and was out of sight in a 

Tom looked wistfully at the men. " Can't you 
help me V* he said, quietly. 

They looked at one another and shook their 
heads. There was no reaching Tom by the boat, 
and each one felt afraid to venture on the ice ; 
then old Quarle addressed them. 

"He's a good boy! a good boy! my men. 
Wont you try and help him } It's a sad thing 
to see him die like that. There's not many such 
boys in the world. Wont you go } wont you 
go.^ The risk's not much. I'd — I'd make it 
worth your while. I'll give a guinea if you bring 
him out." 

The men shook their heads ; times were hard, 
and they would have been glad of the money, 
but the risk was very great. 


" A guinea — he's a good boy — he saved my 
dog from drowning — though he flung my money 
in my face, I should like to save him. A 
guinea — five — five — my men. Oh ! be quick — 
do — ^ten then, there! Ten to whoever brings 
Tom Dunstone safe to land !" 

Still the men hesitated, when Dick came rush- 
ing up with a coil of rope in his hand. No one 
else had thought of it, but it was the rope from 
Winny Trip's well. He had unwound and cut 
it, and in another second had it tightly fastened 
round his waist, leaving an end for him to secure 
Tom by, while he placed the other in the hands 
of one of the men. Then he crawled gently on 
the ice towards Tom, who watched him fear- 

Would Dick reach him without the ice giving 
way } and if it broke beneath their double weight 
would the rope be strong enough to hold them 
both ? At last Dick was near him. 

" Here we are, old fellow !" he cried cheerily, 
and then pulled at Tom^ who was almost help- 
less, and got him right on the ice, then fastened 
the rope round him, and the two together began 
creeping back, every one on the bank watching 
them anxiously. Nearer — nearer yet — a little 
more and they would be safe upon the land. 
Nearer yet — then came a crack that was pain- 


fully audible to those on shore, but the men 
pulled the rope quickly in, and the two boys were 
dragged to land. 

'* Hooray !" cried the lookers on, and 
" Hooray !" cried Dick ; and then he behaved 
like a girl, and flung his arms round Tom's neck, 
and hugged him tightly, saying, " I thought Td 
get you out of it, old fellow !" and then the two 
boys were led off to Winny Trip's cottage ; and 
when little Jack, who was on the look-out, saw 
them coming, he rushed into the house again, 
shouting out, " Put the kettle on again ! Mind 
It boils ! Here's my brother Tom coming, and 
I know he'll want some brandy-and-water." 



OOM spent a very different Christmas-day 
to what he had anticipated. He had 
caught a violent cold in his limbs by remaining 
so long in the water, and found himself unable 
to leave his bed the next morning. What seemed 
worse in Dick's eyes was the fact of Mrs. Wilkins 
saying she was afraid he must have neither goose 
nor pudding for dinner, as he was very feverish, 
but content himself with a little mutton broth. 

" Mutton broth at Christmas ! Oh, Tom !" 
said Dick, ruefully. " Why, you'll be worse off 
than I shall. To think of the mistress serving 
you like that ! I didn't think it of her." 

" And she sha'n't do it neither," said little 
Jack, who was pre.sent. "You'll see if I don't 
save the best half of my dinner, and bring it up 
to Tom," 


But Tom said he could not eat it even if Jack 
did. He had no appetite, and a dull, heavy feel- 
ing in his head. The mistress knew what was 
best for him, after all. 

" I suppose she does," said Dick, ruefully ; 
** though it's hard to see how mutton broth can 
be good for any one on Christmas-day. Well, 
good-bye, Tom. I wish I could stop here and 
keep you company. Now, little Jack, mind you 
take care of your brother." 

*' All right," said Jack, with one of his nods ; 
and then he perched himself by the foot of Tom's 
bed. The day was cold, and there was no fire- 
place in Tom's room, so that of course there 
could be no fire ; but Jack made the best of 
existing circumstances by taking a blanket off 
Dick's bed and wrapping it round him. There 
he sat doubled up like a ball, with his elbows on 
his knees, and so covered up in the blanket that 
scarcely anything was visible of him but his 
little bright eyes which were intently fixed on 
Tom. Mrs. Wilkins came up soon to see how 
the latter was going on, and asked Jack if he was 
not cold, and tired of staying there, to which he 
replied, rather indignantly, "No, I'm minding 

He deigned, however, to go down to dinner, 
but kept his word as to the goose and the pud- 


ding, contriving when he thought himself unob- 
served to smuggle a good portion of each into 
his pocket. Then he went upstairs, and finding 
Tom fast asleep, with his mutton-broth scarcely 
tasted by his side, quietly drew his blanket over 
himself again, and resumed his watch. Then 
when Tom woke he went up to him. " IVc got 
you something better than that stuff, Tom. Look 
here ; and he pulled out a lump of pudding and 
a slice of the goose, and popped them down by 
Tom, who shook his head when he saw them. 

" It's no use. Peculiar ; I couldn't eat them if 
I were to try ever so. I feel so hot, and I have 
got such a strange taste in my mouth. Do you 
know. Jack — do you know, I'm — I'm afraid I'm 
going to be ill." 

Jack opened wide his eyes with fear. " You 
mustn't, Tom, you mustn't. Oh ! Tom ! Tom ! 
don't you die and leave me too !" 

" No, Jack, no. Leave you — I should think 
not. No — no, I wont leave little Jack." And 
presently Tom fell into an uneasy sleep, moaning 
every now and then, and crying out at intervals 
that he would not leave little Jack. Mrs. Wil- 
kins and the minister both came up to see him, 
and when he woke the former gave him a dish 
of her best tea — it was always a dish of tea at 
that time of day — and never before or since did 


Tom taste anything so delicious. He passed a 
troubled night, and the next morning was so 
much worse that Seth Wilkins himself went for 
the doctor. It was a very good thing for Tom 
that his master said he would not call in the 
boy's uncle, lest he should think they wanted 
him to attend for charity. Tom was a good lad, 
and shouldn't be beholden to any of his grand 
relations ; and so instead of Dr. Jefferies, who 
would have dosed and physicked and blistered 
Tom till he had brought him to death's door, he 
•called in young Mr. Wheatley, a new-comer in 
the town, who was daring enough (^being young 
and venturesome) to treat Tom in opposition to 
all the old-fashioned ways that Dr. Jefferies de- 
lighted in, — gave him very little physic, never 
once blistered him, but left nature, which was 
pretty strong and vigorous in Tom, to do her 
own work, and battle her way to health without 
let or hindrance from him. 

But what was to be done with little Jack? 
That was the question which was debated at 
dinner time, when Dick had come home from- 
his grandfather's and Seth in from his work. 
Who was to take him over to Boreham, for Seth 
and Dick were very busy. Jack settled the 
matter himself. 

"I must stop here," he said. "What's the 


good of sending mc away ? Who*s to take care 
of Tom if you do ?" 

Mrs. Wilkins was disposed to think this a very 
sensible idea of Jack's. Mr. Wheatley had said 
there was nothing infectious in Tom's illness, 
and Jack could run up and down and wait on 
his brother, and tell Mrs. Wilkins when he 
wanted anything. And then Dick thought that 
Harry Swain would not at all mind riding 
over on his donkey to Ambrose Dunstone, 
and letting him know why Jack had not re- 
turned. So directly after dinner Dick ran 
over to Harry, who agreed to go off at once to 
Boreham, and then Dick came back to his work, 
thinking very sadly what a different Christmas 
time this was to what Tom and he had looked 

Presently he heard the door of the workshop 
open, and looked up to see if it was his master, 
who had gone into the yard to pick out some 
wood he wanted. To his surprise it was Jacob 
Quarle, who stepped up to the bright wood fire 
and warmed his thin hands over it ; then he 
looked round and said, " Where's the other ?" 

** You mean Tom, I suppose," said Dick ; 
^* well, he's upstairs in bed, and ain't likely to be 
out of it for some time, the doctor says. Worse 
luck for him and me too, I'm sure." 


" Ah, you'll have more work to do, I suppose," 
said Quarle. 

"You old " Dick checked himself in 

time, for he was going to say something not too 
complimentary. " I suppose you fancy it*s that 
Vm thinking about. And where's the ten guineas 
you promised any one that saved Tom ? I think 
IVe the best right to them, haven't I ?" 

"I didn't think you wanted to be paid for 
that," said Quarle. " And what's a boy like you 
to do with ten guineas V* 

" Well, I wouldn't hoard it up the chimney, 
where it would be no use to me or any one else," 
replied Dick ; '* and I shouldn't mind if I treated 
you to a dinner out of it. I wonder whether you 
remember what roast beefs like .?" 

" It — it was the men I said I'd give the money 
to if they saved the lad," said Quarle. " WhoM 
think of offering ten guineas to you for doing 
such a thing ?" 

" Well, I never expected to get it, so I'm not 
disappointed," said Dick. " But Tom's precious 
bad, suppose you pay his doctor's bill instead ?" 

*' I — I should like to see him," said Quarle ; 
" do you think Mrs. Wilkins will let me T* 

*' I'll go and ask her," said Dick, and he ran off 
at once, and presently returned, saying that the 
mistress said he might take Mr. Quarle upstairs. 


He led the way, and Quarlc followed him to the 
little bedroom, where they found Tom in a deep 
sleep, breathing heavily, while little Jack, wrapped 
in his blanket, was watching him. Quarle sat 
down and looked at the boy attentively, leaning 
his hands on his stick and his chin upon them. 
His dog, who had followed him, seemed to share 
his master's concern for Tom, sitting with his tail 
curled round his legs and his eyes fixed on the 
boy the whole time Quarle remained in the 
room. After a time the old man went down- 
stairs and into the kitchen, where Mrs. Wilkins 
was busy. 

** He's a good lad — a good lad, that one up- 
stairs," he said, addressing her; "you ought to 
take good care of him, Mrs. Wilkins ; you wont 
easily get another such in his place." 

"Yes, he's a good boy enough," said Mrs. 
Wilkins, "and you've reason to say so, Mr 
Quarle, seeing how he's stood your friend after 
all your ill-usage of his father. But did you only 
come here just to tell me Tom Dunstone was a 
good boy } The master and I had found that 
out for ourselves by this time." 

" Yes ; and to say that — I shouldn't like him 
to want for anything, Mrs. Wilkins. I'm a poor 
man, and times are hard ; but so far as a bottle 
of wine goes, or a little help with the doctor's 


bill, ni help you out with the expense of Tom's 
illness. — That's all ; but don't let the doctor 
know it, he'll only be sending in twice as much 
medicine as need be if he does." 

Then old Quarle shuffled out of the house, fol- 
lowed by his dog ; and Mrs. Wilkins, lifting up 
her hands and eyes, said to Dick — 

** Only think of that now ! Fancy his sending 
the poor fellow wine, or part paying his doctor's 
bill ! I wonder what Tom will say when he 
hears of it V^ 

"He wont drink a drop of the wine that Quarle 
sends if he knows where it comes from, missis," 
said Dick ; " and if he's any notion that Quarle's 
going to pay the doctor's bill, I believe he'll die 
out of sheer perverseness. He's a good fellow is 
Tom, but a queer one too in his way, and I don't 
think it'll do to let him know Quarle's done any- 
thing for him till he's well and strong again ; — 
that's if he ever does get well," said Dick, mourn- 
fully, " and if he doesn't, — oh ! missis, what shall 
we all do without Tom, now we've got used to 
him ?" 



|OM*S illness was a very serious one. Fever 
set in, and for some days he was delirious, 
and unconscious of all that passed around him, 
and when the fever subsided it left him painfully 
weak and helpless. Little Jack was a first-rate 
nurse in his small way, and Mrs. Wilkins was 
kind and tender as a mother to the poor invalid, 
while every spare hour that Dick had was spent 
in Tom's sick room. Old Quarle was not ad- 
mitted there again however, Mrs. Wilkins fearing 
the effect the sight of him might have on Tom. 
But he came every day, and very often brought 
something for Tom, — it might be oranges, the 
finest in the market, though he would spend an 
hour in going from one to the other of the sales- 
women and chaffering about the price. Or as 
Tom grew better he would bring a partridge or 
a chicken to tempt his appetite, and they were. 

G 2 


sure to be first-rate of their kind, which, as Dick 
said, was the more to be wondered at considering 
that there was not a boy in the town but believed 
that old Quarle himself subsisted upon rat-stew 
and sparrow-soup. And he brought wine too in 
curious long-necked cobwebbed bottles, such 
wine as no one could buy in Bridgetown, and 
which the doctor said would do Tom more good 
than all his medicine. But Tom was not told of 
all these kindnesses from the strange old man, 
for Dick said he was certain he would swallow 
neither the wine nor the food if he knew whence 
they came, though the minister thought that he 
ought to be told as soon as he grew better. Mr. 
Dennes was a great deal with Tom ; they had 
many long quiet talks together in the little room 
as the boy grew better ; and little Jack would sit 
listening, with his head between his hands and 
his bright eyes turned first on one and then on 
the other, to all that passed. 

On the whole this illness was not a bad time for 
Tom ; he learned many things in it, both from his 
own heart and the minister's gentle teachings, 
which he remembered all his life through. Illness 
can teach us many lessons, my boys, which we 
seldom care to learn in our health and strength, 
and it is well for us if we remember them when we 
leave the sick room and come into the bustle and 


stir of life again. And after a bit Tom came down- 
stairs^andwas installed in state in the master sown 
easy-cliair by the fire, and little Jack sat at his 
feet looking up in his face, and Mrs. Wilkins 
knitted, sitting opposite to him ; and when the 
master came in, they all knew that he was pleased 
to see Tom down again, yet he looked thoroughly 
miserable, which he had not done the whole time 
of Tom's illness. As to Dick, he behaved shame- 
fully, pretending to laugh when every one could 
see that he was ready to cry, and having nothing 
further to say for himself than, ** There you are 
again, old fellow." 

Jacob Quarle came the next day to see Tom, 
and Mr. Dennes happened to be there at the 
time. The old man sat himself down on the 
opposite side of the fireplace to that where Tom 
was, and leaning his head on his hands and rest- 
ing them on his stick in his usual manner, stared 
intently at Tom for some minutes. The minister 
had been acquainting Tom with Quarle's kind- 
ness to himself, which had elicited the remark, 
**I wish, sir, he'd kept his wine and things to 
himself ; I'd never have taken them if I'd known 
from where they came," and just then Quarle 
entered. After a while Tom thanked him for 
what he had done for him, but in a very t\\axi> 
less tone of voice, adding, " and \i yoxiW ot\'^ VX 


me know what they all cost, sir, when Fm a man 
1*11 try and pay you off, as well as all the money 
my father owed you." 

" I — I didn*t give them for payment," said 
Quarle, flushing up through the dull leaden 
colour of his cheeks ; " and as to the money your 
father owed me, what business has a boy like you 
to trouble himself about that ?" 

" Because if it hadn't been for that money, 
my father might have been living yet," said Tom. 
^*That seemed just to finish him up. It was very 
hard for an honest man like him to be hunted as 
if he*d been a thief ; and you were the hardest of 
^11 his creditors." 

" A man's a right to look after his own," said 
Quarle, sullenly ; " but what's all that to do with 
you and me, boy.? When I ask you to pay 
your father's debts it will be time enough for 
you to do it." 

He got up, took his hat, and went sullenly 
away. Then old Mr. Dennes turned to Tom, and 
gently — ^very gently, for he saw the boy was weak 
and suffering — reproved him for the harshness 
with which he had repaid Quarle's efforts at 
kindness. " He meant well by you, my lad ; you 
should have met him in a different spirit. I be- 
lieve it is only of late that he has ever thought of 
doing any one a kindly turn, and you who are 


the first to whom he has tried to do so, ought 
not to have checked him thus. The man is hard 
and close enough in himself, hard words from 
you will never make him any better." 

Tom felt that he had done wrong, and pro- 
mised to thank Quarle in a different manner 
when next he saw him ; and then, leaning back 
in his chair, closed his eyes and slept for a couple 
of hours, when he was awoke by the entrance of 
another visitor. 

And this was his uncle, Dr. Jcfferies. As I 
have said, Seth Wilkins would not call him in to 
attend the boy, fearing in his honest pride that 
he should fancy he wanted him to give his ser- 
vices for nothing. And Mrs. Wilkins, who did 
not at all approve of Dr. Jefferies, encouraged 
her husband in this resolution, and suggested 
that Tom should be attended by young Mr. 
Wheatley, whom, although a new-comer in the 
neighbourhood, she had already heard spoken 
very highly of. But although Tom got on a 
great deal better under Mr. Wheatley than he 
could possibly have done under Dr. Jefferies, 
who, as we have before said, would have bled 
and physicked him till he had brought him to 
death's door, Seth Wilkins was not altogether 
satisfied. Dr. Jefferies was a doctor much more 
to his mind than Mr. Wheatley, who, according 


to Seth, did not send in half enough physic 
for his money, and so to-day, feeling a touch 
of his old complaint the lumbago, he hailed 
Dr. Jefferies as he saw him driving past the 
workshop, and when he entered, began detail- 
ing his complaints with his accustomed mourn- 

Seth thought he was poorly when the doctor 
came in, but he felt himself very ill indeed before 
the doctor went out. There was nobody like Dr. 
Jefferies for impressing a man thoroughly with the 
importance of his own case. He shook his head 
and looked graver and graver as Seth went on 
with a recital of his ailments, till the latter began 
to think that it would be almost as well if as soon 
as the doctor had gone he were to set to work at 
his own coffin, and save his wife the trouble of 
ordering it for him. 

"You should have called me in sooner, Mr. 
Wilkins — ^you should have called me in sooner," 
said Dr. Jefferies, when he rose to go ; " people 
never will learn the importance of taking things 
in time. I shall be round in an hour, and if you 
will send your boy there over, will send you back 
a plaster and a draught and an embrocation. If 
you're not better to-morrow, we'll try a dozen or 
so of leeches — or cupping ; but I almost prefer the 
leeches. Yes, yes, it shall be the leeches ; they're 


excellent little creatures. I'm partial to them — 

Seth looked more mournful than ever. He 
had no idea there was half so much the matter 
with him before he had seen Dr. Jefferies, and 
he felt profoundly impressed with the doctor's 
cleverness in finding it out. Then he thought, as 
he was there, he should like him just to see Tom, 
who seemed getting on very slowly, and who, in 
Seth's opinion, had not had nearly so much 
physic as he should have had. 

" Will you step this way, sir ?" he said ; " I've 
a lad here — an apprentice. I think, too, you 
know something of him: but that's neither here 
nor there. I'm not quite satisfied with the way 
he's going on. My missis would have Mr. 
Wheatley to him," added Seth — laying, like 
Adam, the blame on his wife — " he's a clever 
young gentleman, but he is young, and I don't 
think takes quite such active measures as he 

This was a long speech for Mr. Wilkins, and 
he wiped his forehead after making it. He 
always brought out his words slowly and with 
difficulty, much as you might fancy a machine in 
the shape of a man would do. Little Jack said 
his words always sounded as if they were made 
of wood, and his tongue was a turning-lathe. 


" Yes, he is young," said Dr. Jefferies, gravely. 
He was not an ill-natured man, and not disposed 
to quarrel with Seth for not having called him 
in to Tom, " He is young, Mr. Wilkins, very ;" 
and Dr. Jefferies shook his head. And Dr. Jef- 
feries* shake of the head always said a great deal, 
and in this instance it implied that Mr. Wheatley 
being so young might, in the rashness and pre- 
sumption of his ignorance, have half killed Tom, 
and that it would be too late for him to mend 
matters. So he followed Mr. Wilkins into the 
bright clean kitchen, where Tom was sitting by 
the fire having a little feeble talk with Jack. 

It did not suit Dr. Jefferies to recognise Tom 
as his nephew. As I have just said, he was not 
an ill-natured man, but he considered that he 
had his professional position to maintain, and his 
wife had taken a great deal of trouble to instil 
her own exalted notions into his head, so he took 
no more notice of Tom than if he had never seen 
him before, but sitting down by his side felt his 
pulse, looked at his tongue, and then shook his 

" Hum, ha ! — our pulse is very low, and our 
tongue not at all the thing. Am I to understand 
that we are still under Mr. Wheatley's care ?" 
said Dr. Jefferies, looking very seriously at Tom. 

'' Well, hardly, sir," said Mrs.Wilkins, cheerily. 


Dr. Jefferies* shake of the head never frightened 
her. "He told me yesterday that he did not 
see that he could do much more for him ; all he 
wanted was kitchen physic now." 

" Kitchen physic ! — ah ! — time enough for that 
in a fortnight's time," said Dr. Jefferies, looking 
at Tom more gravely than ever. " A little mutton 
broth now, very weak, would not be amiss — that's 
if he*d the appetite to take it, which I should 
doubt. Now, what has he had to-day ?" 

"A half-pound mutton-chop!" said Jack, at 
the top of his voice. "Dick and I went to buy it, 
and Tom eat it every bit but the bone, and 
looked as if he wanted more. And he'd roast 
fowl yesterday, and if he goes on well he's to 
have roast beef to-morrow," added Jack, with a 
triumphant nod ; " and I'm to turn the spit, that 
it don't burn." 

Dr. Jefferies looked overpowered ! The way 
Tom was being treated was so completely op- 
posed to all his notions of the manner in which 
a patient should be dieted. He shook his head 
with more emphasis than ever, and said in his 
most solemn tone — 

" Mrs. Wilkins, you'll kill us if you go on like 
this. We are not in a condition to stand it. 

We " But here Dr. Jefferies was interrupted 

by Jaci> who had been scanning Yntn c\it\o>\'^^ 

92 TOM dunstone:s troubles. 

while he was speaking, and who now shouted out, 
" I know you ; you're my uncle ! What a time 
it is since youVe been to see us !" 

Dr. Jefferies thought it best not to hear Jack's 
remark, and was proceeding to inform Mr. 
Wilkins that, "we were not in a state to be fed 
upon mutton-chops and roast beef," when Jack 
continued, "I saw aunt last Sunday, but she 
didn't see me, and Fred made believe he didn't 
neither ; but I know he did, for all that." 

Dr. Jefferies thought it best to beat a retreat. 
Little Jack was too much for him ; so he looked 
at his watch, and murmured something about 
being in a hurry, and then took his departure. 
Mrs. Wilkins tried to look grave, and told Jack 
he was a naughty little chatterbox, but as she 
gave him sugared bread-and-butter for tea, I 
don't think she could have been very angry with 
him. As to Mr. Wilkins, he returned to his 
workshop, feeling very thankful he had consulted 
the doctor, and wondering how it was he had 
never found out he was so ill before. 




BWJR. JEFFERIES sent Seth Wilkins plenty 
EiBI of physic, which in spite of his wife's 
counsel he persisted in taking ; but he did not 
come to see him for a week. Mrs. Wilkins said 
little Jack had frightened him away. At the 
end of that time he appeared in the workshop 
and found Mr. Wilkins at work, though not look- 
ing half so well as he had done when the doctor 
first called ; but this was not at all an unusual 
thing with Dr. Jefferies' patients. 

The doctor inquired whether Mr. Wilkins 
had duly swallowed his draughts, rubbed in his 
embrocation, applied his blisters, and, above all, 
whether he had let the leeches suck their fill. 

" They are such famous creatures," he said ; 
" I'm very partial to them. And we kept them 
on, did we, as long as they'd bite ?" 

Seth nodded mournfully. He via.^ 3. 'nv^^sX 


obedient patient, and took his physic as if it was 
a pleasure to him ; and as to the leeches, he let 
them work their will upon him as long as they 
pleased, and resented it as a personal affront 
when Mrs. Wilkins, in her anxiety for him, would 
have cried " Hold ! enough." Any doctor really 
ought to have been satisfied with such a patient, 
but Dr. Jefferies had been brought up in the 
good old school of Dose and Drench, and Mn 
Wilkins was not half bad enough to please him 
yet. Where would be the credit of curing a 
man unless he was as bad as he well could be .^ 
And if he was not bad enough to make a good 
cure when he fell into the doctor's hands, the 
only thing the doctor could do was to half kill 
before he cured him. So Dr. Jefferies told Seth 
Wilkins he would send him in some more 
draughts, a couple of blisters, another embroca« 
tion, and half-a-dozen more leeches, and Dick 
had better come for the different articles in the 
evening. Then he added — 

" How is the lad you showed me the last time 
I was here ? I hope Mrs. Wilkins has been 
keeping him upon low diet ; and, indeed, in the 
state he was in he was much fitter to be in his 
bed than downstairs. Is he any better than 
when I last saw him .? No cold } no inflamma- 
tion r 


" Tom's as right as a trivet,'* cried Jack, who 
was playing with a heap of shavings in the cor- 
ner. " Mrs. Wilkins and I took care of him. 
And he drinks two glasses of wine every day all 
to himself, and eats as much as Dick and me put 
together. And I heard Mrs. Wilkins say, uncle, 
that was her notion of low diet, whatever yours 
might be." 

Jack nodded at the doctor, and looking 
triumphant, went on curling the shavings round 
his fingers. Dr. Jefferies shook his head more 
ominously than ever. 

" Mrs. Wilkins's over-feeding will bring on an 
inflammation, which indeed is no more than 
might be expected. She means it kindly, but 
what will her feelings be if this boy's death lies 
at her door ?" 

" But she isn't going to let him die, uncle," 
cried Jack, in his shrillest voice. " She promised 
me she wouldn't, so I'm going away to-morrow. 
And I heard her say," added Jack, "that Mr. 
Wilkins is taking physic enough to kill a horse, 
and that if he'd any common sense, which he 
hasn't, he wouldn't let you bleed and blister him 
to death like this." 

" Mr. Wilkins," said Dr. Jefferies, gravely, 
" your wife, like most women, seems fond of talk- 
ing of what she knows nothing a\>ou\.\Vl^^ 


thinks she can undertake your case better than 
I " 

" Oh pray, sir," cried Seth, who began to be 
afraid lest the doctor should desert him, *' don't 
mind the little fellow's nonsense. He's sadly 
spoiled, I'm afraid ; and my wife, yes" — added 
Wilkins, with a shake of the head as solemn as 
the doctor's own — " yes, she is apt to say what 
she should not upon such points ; it's the one 
thing — I may say the only thing — ^we don't quite 
agree upon." 

And then poor Seth, who felt very weak and 
nervous, as indeed well he might, considering 
how faithfully he had swallowed all the doctor's 
draughts, and dieted himself according to his 
rules, sat down upon his carpenter's bench and 
wiped his forehead with his handkerchief, look- 
ing imploringly at the doctor, as if asking him 
still to go on with his physicking and blistering, 
and not to allow him to get well without him. 
And so Dr. Jefferies, seeing that he was penitent 
for his wife's misbehaviour, was moved to com- 
passion, and promised Seth an extra draught 
and blisters of redoubled strength. Then he 
went away, leaving his patient very grateful, and 
even more miserable than usual. 

Mrs. Wilkins was very much vexed when she 
heard of Dr. Jefferies' second visit, and did her 


best to persuade her husband neither to take his 
advice nor his physic, but Seth was firm. In 
most matters he let his wife have her own way, 
but as regarded his health he considered that he 
owed a duty both to himself and his doctor, and 
so, sorely against Mrs. Wilkins's will, she was 
obliged to administer the physic, fix the blisters, 
and apply the leeches, with no other result than 
seeing her husband grow weaker and weaker 
every day, till at last, when Dr. Jefferies thought 
his patient bad enough, he began to try and 
make him better. But all this time Tom, who 
had been treated on a very different system 
(luckily for you young folks, the system which is 
most in vogue in the present day), was growing 
stronger and heartier than ever, and before long 
was able to do his own share of work, as well as 
supply his master's place to some extent, for the 
doctor left Seth with little inclination or strength 
to do anything else but take medicine and sub- 
mit to his regimen. 

Little Jack had returned home, but Mrs. Wil- 
kins promised that he should soon come again 
and see Tom ; and about the middle of Feb- 
ruary, when Dick's fifteenth birthday was draw- 
ing nigh, she said that as both Tom and he had 
been such good lads lately, they might fetch 
Jack to spend the day with them, and in the 



evening they should have a regale of tea and 
toast, and hot chestnuts afterwards. They were 
to get their work done in good time the day 
before in order to take some sheep hurdles home 
to a farmer near Ambrose Dunstone's, and then 
to call for little Jack ; and should Mrs. Ambrose 
r—it was scarcely likely she would — but should 
she ask them to stay to tea, why, they might do 
so, as nothing had been heard of certain high- 
waymen who had formerly infested the neighbour- 
hood, since the capture of their horses some 
months previously, and therefore Mrs. Wilkins 
was no longer afraid of the boys being out after 

Tom and Dick rose early in order to get their 
work done, and worked hard till three o'clock in 
the afternoon, when having finished what they 
had in hand, they brushed themselves up, har- 
nessed the horse, and started off in high spirits. 
They left the sheep hurdles at Farmer Somers!s, 
whose wife asked them to stop to tea, but hearing 
thati they were going on to Ambrose Dunstone's 
to fetch Jack, made them promise to bring him 
back with them. This Tom was very glad to do. 
Mrs. Somers had been an acquaintance of his 
mother's, and he was pleased at her taking notice 
of little Jack. Mrs. Ambrose was glad to see 
Tom looking so well and strong again. It was 


the first time he had been to the farm since his 
illness ; and while Dick and he warmed them- 
selves by the fire in the kitchen, she tidied up 
Peculiar, and made him, in her opinion, quite 
smart for company. He had a little frilled collar 
on, rather old, for it had formerly been Tom's, 
and it stuck out all round Jack's neck quite stiffly, 
and his coat was patched at the elbows and worn 
at the buttons, and left a full inch exposed at 
his wrists — for Jack was growing fast ; but grow 
as he would his clothes had to last him their 
time. His trousers were mended at the knees 
with cloth that did not match the original ma- 
terial very well, and they came only half way 
below his knees, leaving his little bare legs and 
his well-mended gray socks fully exposed to view. 
His boots were the most creditable portion of 
his attire, for they were really new, but so thick 
and so studded with large heavy nails that it was 
wonderful how little Jack could run about in 
them so nimbly as he did. Altogether, though 
little Jack was in his very best, he was not, as 
my readers will perceive, altogether in full trim 
for an evening party. Never mind — little Jack 
was very happy, healthy, and rosy, and Mrs. 
Ambrose was quite of opinion that he did her 
credit ; and upon the whole I think he did. 
Down he came when his toilet was completed. 

K 2 


" Now then, you fellows ! I'm all ready — let's be 
off as quick as we can." 

They were soon in the cart, jogging merrily 
on to Mrs. Somers's, who had a famous tea for 
them, and made them heartily welcome. Indeed 
she would have liked to have kept them all night, 
but that they knew Mrs. Wilkins would be uneasy 
if they did not return in good time ; and ac- 
cordingly they started off soon after eight, 
thinking they should be home in little more than 
an hour, and having no anticipation of all that, 
as it happened, befell them on the road. 


VnOCTOR and Mrs. Jefferies were giving 
KBi a party that night, a very grand one for 
Bridgetown, where the parties generally were of a 
primitive description, and the ladies walked to 
them in their calashes and clc^s, with their 
maids, or their husbands if they had any, carrying 
their lanterns for them. It was only now and 
then, en very grand occasions, that the one sedan- 
chair in the town was in requisition, for the 
people at Bridgetown were saving folks, and did 
not hke spending too much money on their little 
dissipations. But to-night the sedan had been 
going backwards and forwards as fast as its 
bearers could carry it ; for the ladies were wear- 
ing their best dresses and turbans, to do Mrs. 
Jefferies honour, and these needed the protection 
of the sedan-chair for their safe conveyance to 
her house. 


Mrs. Jefferies herself was what you boys would 

call " awfully grand." She had on a purple satin 
dress and a pale blue turban with a bird of para- 
dise feather in it, and Master Freddy had had his 
hair curled by the hair-dresser, and wore a new 
suit of clothes just come home from the tailor, 
and pumps and white cotton stockings, to say 
nothing of pale yellow gloves on his hands. 
Altogether, in his own opinion, Freddy was very 
well got up indeed, and was certainly a decided 
contrast to his poor little cousin Jack. Dn 
Jefferies too looked very imposing. He had on 
his best black suit, knee-breeches, and black silk 
stockings — you will remember, my boys, I am 
speaking of sixty years ago — and he had on his 
best company manners too, and was so polite 
and complimentary, and pleasant and gracious 
to the ladies that, as they one and all said, " it 
was quite a treat to see him." 

Squire Preston was there with his wife. Mrs* 
Jefferies was very fond of talking of " my brother, 
the Squire," and she was very proud this evening 
to have him there for the good folks of the town 
to see. And Mr. Brown, the lawyer, with his 
wife — ^Tom's other aunt and Mrs. Jefferies* sister, 
you will remember — had come to the party, so 
that it was quite a family gathering, with all the 
gentilities of the town to look on and see how 


united the Browns and Jefferies were, and to 
hear the Squire talk of his lands and his sheep, 
and admire his wife's garnet ornaments and the 
real lace trimming of her dress. 

What a nice party it was, to be sure ! And 
how pleased Mrs. Jefferies was that the best 
people in the town had honoured her invitation 
to "meet my brother, Squire Preston." Even the 
Rector himself had come, and after tea sat down 
to a rubber of whist, with Mrs. Preston for his 
partner and the Squire for one of his opponents. 
And the Rector, who was a younger son of one 
of the county families, so seldom went out of an 
evening, it looked as if he had just come there 
out of compliment to the Squire, who, after all — 
and Mrs. Jefferies felt very dignified when she 
thought of this — was the head of another of the 
county families ; not a very wealthy or exalted 
one it is true, still land is land, and a squire is a 
squire, and it is something, after all, to feel that 
you are not only a doctor's wife but a real live 
Squire's sister. Mrs. Jeflferies thought so, and so 
did Mrs. Brown ; but though both these ladies 
had children of their own, no thought crossed 
their minds that night of the motherless boys 
whom their sister had left behind her, and who 
might have gone to the workhouse, or begged 
for bread, for any help of theirs to prevent it. 


There were some folks there who thought of 
these children, if they did not. When people 
attempt to soar too high, other people seem to 
take a perverse delight in trying to pull them 
down. There was not a soul in the town but 
knew that Mrs. Jefferies and Mrs. Brown had 
one nephew who was apprenticed to Wilkins 
the carpenter, and another who was living on 
the charity of a distant relation, who was only a 
small farmer ; and even amongst Mrs. Jefferies' 
guests that night there were some who remem- 
bered the existence of Tom and Jack, though 
their aunts might think proper to forget them. 
There was one old lady especially — Mrs. General 
Mauriel — ^who was cruel enough just before the 
card-tables were set out to ask Mrs. Jefferies at 
the very top of her voice how her nephews were 
getting on, and whether " young Dunstone " was 
likely to do well at carpentering. Mrs. Jefferies 
did not appear to hear, affecting to be too busy 
in arranging the partners for a rubber at whist to 
know what was said ; but she flushed up to her 
turban, and felt as if she could have shaken Mrs. 
General Mauriel, as she afterwards told her sister, 
Mrs. Brown. 

But Mrs. General was not easily silenced. She 
was rather a terrible lady, having a pertinacious 
way of following up her point, and of sticking to 


any question she wished answered ; and in right of 
her late husband having been a general of militia 
she held her head very high, and wondered what 
Mrs. Jefferies and Mrs. Brown could mean by 
giving themselves airs just because their brother 
farmed his own land and called himself a Squire. 
She had no patience, she declared, with people 
making themselves ridiculous by pretending to 
be much greater folks than they really were. 
At the same time it would have been a terrible 
affront in Mrs. General's eyes if any one had 
called her plain Mrs. Mauriel ; and she held her 
state in the little town of Bridgetown, as if she had 
been a small queen who had settled there for the 
benefit of her health, and was extremely punc- 
tilious and exacting of all the observances due to 
her position, and generally endeavoured to im- 
press every one with what I really think was her 
own opinion, that if Queen Charlotte was the 
first lady in the kingdom, why, Mrs. General 
Mauriel was the second. 

She might have continued her questions but 
that a diversion was created by Dr. Jefferies 
being summoned out. A message came from 
one of his best patients, a well-to-do retired 
tradesman, much afflicted with the gout, that he 
had just had an alarming attack, and there were 
fears of its flying to his stomach if the doctor did 


not do his best to prevent it. It was very an- 
noying, every one said, for the doctor to be 
fetched out just as he was dealing the cards for 
his first rubber, but there was no help for it, the 
case required prompt attention, and Mr. Gibson 
was much too profitable a patient to be neglected ; 
so laying down the cards. Dr. Jefferies left his 
drawing-room, promising to return to his guests 
as speedily as possible. He went into his sur- 
gery and began equipping himself, putting on his 
great-coat and thickest muffler, and drawing 
gaiters over his legs, for the night was cold and 
it was a muddy walk to Mr. Gibson's. But the 
doctor felt in want of other protection than that 
against the cold ; he was a nervous, timid man, 
and had a great horror of going out after dark, 
and ever since the highwaymen I have mentioned 
had made themselves so renowned this feeling had 
increased. It did not matter so much in the town^ 
where a cry for help, if help were needed, could be 
heard, and where the flickering oil-lamps gave 
some light, however faint and doubtful ; but Mr. 
Gibson lived at the outskirts of the town, not far 
from Keyhole Freehold, where some of the worst 
characters in the neighbourhood were known to 
dwell ; and there were no lamps near his resi- 
dence, which stood in a walled garden some dis- 
tance from any tenement but the questionable 


ones of which I have spoken. Dr. Jefferies wished 
with all his heart that Mr. Gibson's attack had 
come on some hours sooner, and he took out his 
thickest stick with a large knob at the head, and 
hoped he should have courage enough, if neces- 
sary, to knock anyone down with it, though he 
felt rather doubtful on that point. Then he put 
up some medicine which he thought might suit 
the case, and lastly he took out a double-barrelled 
pistol. He hoped the very sight of it would 
frighten away any one who attacked him, for he 
felt sure he should never have courage to fire it 
off. And then he started off for Mr. Gibson's, 
picking his way as well as he could, for it had 
rained in the morning, and the pavement was still 
slippery and muddy. 

When he reached Mr. Gibson's he found that 
gentleman very ill, and the whole household 
anxiously expecting him. As he had come pro- 
vided with several bottles of medicine, he admi-^ 
nistered at once the one he thought most suit- 
able ; and as the case was one that required sharp 
remedies, which were things quite in Dr. Jefferies*^ 
line, he soon gave his patient some relief. Then 
he left him, promising tocall round early the next 
morning, and started on his way homewards. 

But he was scarcely outside the wall of Mr. 
Gibson's garden, when a little ragged girl ran up> 


to him, and dropping a curtsey said, " Oh, please 
sir, be you the doctor, for granny's terrible bad 
with the rheumatiz ; and hearin' you'd been sent 
for to Mr. Gibson's, she's sent to ask if so be 
you'll go to hur." 

" And where does your granny live, child ?" 
said the doctor, trembling all over at the thought 
of having to keep out longer in the dark, and 
dreading lest this should be a plan to trepan him. 

" It's at 2, Keyhole Freehold, granny is," said 
the child. '* Tozer her name is. She told me to 
be sure to tell you. You know her very well, 
she says." 

Doctor Jefferies did know Mrs. Tozer a great 
deal better than he at all wished. She was 
always sending for him, giving him as much 
trouble as if she had been the best paying patient 
on his books, while she never gave him anything 
else. She was quite learned in physic, would tell 
the doctor herself what she thought most suitable 
for her case, and scold him well if he did not 
send it sharp or strong enough. And to have 
heard her talk you would have thought that she 
was obliging the doctor very much by calling 
him in whenever anything ailed her, and that it 
was his duty to attend upon her, whoever else 
might be waiting for him. 

The doctor would not have been so prompt to 


attend upon Mrs. Tozer as he generally was, but 
that he stood in mortal fear of her husband. 
Tozer was a drunken, good-for-nothing old man, 
who got his living no one knew how, though the 
parish constable had his suspicions on the subject. 
He was out at all hours of the night, and the 
doctor had run against him frequently, and once 
or twice when he had not been so attentive to 
Mrs. Tozer's ailments as her husband thought he 
should have been, he had expressed his opinion 
on the subject with such force that the poor 
doctor had quaked in his shoes, and made a 
mental vow that Mrs. Tozer should have his at- 
tendance whenever she wished for it, and swallow 
as much medicine as she pleased ; so now when 
he heard who it was that required his services he 
went towards Keyhole Freehold with the utmost 
promptitude, not daring to refuse, lest the for- 
midable Tozer himself should come after him. 

No. 2 was the most wretched of all the tene- 
ments designated as Keyhole Freehold. The 
door by which the doctor entered had to be 
pushed open by main force, as the hinges were 
broken and rusty. There was a bright wood fire 
in the wretched room into which they first en- 
tered, for Mr. Tozer was not at all particular 
whose fences or gates supplied him with fuel, but 
Granny Tozer was not there. 


** Gran's biding upstairs," said the girl, " but 
granfeyther's coming in soon, so I lit the fire for 
him ; an' he'll maybe bring one or two others 
with him." 

Doctor Jeflferies quailed at the thought of 
Tozer's friends. Tozer himself was a terrible 
person to encounter, but his associates were far 
worse. Besides, they might be drunk, and they 
would not have the motive that Tozer had for 
behaving civilly to the doctor as long as he paid 
due attention to his wife. But he must visit 
Granny Tozer now he was here, and he resolved 
to spend no more time with her than was abso- 
lutely necessary, though it was always difficult to 
get away from the old woman when she once 
began to talk. 

He followed his small guide up the creaking, 
worm-eaten stairs, which he was always afraid 
would crumble beneath his feet whenever he 
trod them, and into the low> small, dirty room 
where his patient was expecting him. She was 
sitting by the fire, cowering over it, and with her 
old red shawl pulled over her head ; her sharp 
features, wrinkled skin, and keen black eyes 
would have served a painter as a model for a 
witch. She turned quickly round when the 
doctor came in. 

" An' so here you are at last ; I thought you 

" IJf felt her pulse, and made a f'rui mquiriet." — P. i 


was never comin' near me agin. The toimcs Tve 
seen you droivin* past, an* never once thought of 
giving me a look in for all the years IVe had you 
as a doctor, an' all the physic of yours IVe taken. 
I'll have Wheatley in, I will, if you don't use me 
better ; he's a young fellow, an* wants encouragin*. . 
Why, it's three weeks since I got through the 
last stuff you sent me ; and how's a woman at 
my toime o'life to do without a drop o' medicine 
pretty often. I couldn't be worse off if I was in 
the workus." 

Dr. Jefferies took all this very meekly ; he was 
used to this style of thing from Mrs. Tozer. Then 
he felt her pulse, made a few inquiries, but failed 
to obtain any clear idea of what was the matter 
with her. 

" I suppose it's the rheumatiz, for I've aches 
and pains all over, an' a sinkin' o' the stomach, 
'specially just afore dinner toime, an' a dizziness 
o' the head that comes on if I only take the least 
drop o' anythin' to keep the cold out. And so I 
thought, as I heerd you was a comin' to Mr. 
Gibson's, I'd just let you know, an' see if you 
couldn't give me somethin' as 'ud do me good. 
Happen you've got a bottle o' stuff with you as '11 
suit me. I ain't partickler as long as it's strong 
an' comfortin'." 

" I've got a bottle of medicine that I put up 


before I came out to Mr. Gibson," replied the 
doctor ; " but it's not at all adapted to your case, 
Mrs. Tozer." 

" No, of course it isn't !" cried the old woman, 

snappishly. "What's fit for Mr. Gibson is much 

•too good for the likes o' me. That's how it is 

your stuff does me so little good. I may just 

put up with the washings o' the bottles !" 

"Now, my good Mrs. Tozer," pleaded the 
doctor, for he was becoming nervously anxious 
to get away before Tozer and his friends 
came in. 

" I'm not good !" cried Mrs. Tozer, and she 
certainly spoke the truth. "An' I say it's a 
shame as there's one kind o' physic for the rich 
an' another for the poor ; an' I believe a bottle 
o' the real good stuff such as you give Mr. Gibson 
would pretty nigh set me on my feet again. 
Now do e'e let us have it, do e'e, that's a dear 
soul," she added in a wheedling tone, stretching 
out her skinny, wrinkled, claw-like hand for the 
mixture she coveted. 

Dr. Jefferies began to get alarmed. He was 
fond of strong remedies, but the one in his breast 
pocket was much too strong for an old woman 
like Mrs. Tozer, who had scarcely anything the 
matter with her but sheer old age. He had 
hesitated to give it to Mr. Gibson, finding the 


violence of the attack had somewhat subsided 
when he came to him, but had substituted the 
milder draught which he had also brought with 
him. He would have done a great deal to please 
Mrs. Tozer and to get away quietly before he|^ 
husband and his friends came in, but he was 
not quite prepared to run the risk of having a 
coroner's inquest held on the old lady, and a 
verdict of manslaughter brought in against him- 
self for giving her improper medicine. He at- 
tempted to remonstrate with her : — 

" But Mrs. Tozer, you don't consider — ^there's 
belladonna in it.'' 

" The very thing I allers said would suit my 
case," cried Mrs. Tozer. " I ses to Ben, ses I, if 
that doctor wud only give me bellydonny I know 
it 'ud set me up agin ; but it's the price I expect 
that hinders on him. An' Ben ses, ses he. Let me 
catch him a keepin' anything from you on ac- 
count of the price, old ooman, an' I'll pay him in 
a way he don't think for. Ah, he's a good 'un, is 
Ben ! — a good 'un when the drink isn't in his 
heed. Now, doctor, hand us the bottle, and 
doant let's have any more pother about it." 

" But there's prussic acid in it," cried Dr. 
Jefferies — "prussic acid, I tell you; do you 
know what that is ?" 

" Lor, doctor ! is there ?'' cried Mts, Tox^x^Vnrx 


eyes sparicling with delight. " Now I Ve heerd 
o' that, an' allers had a fancy for it. Why ever 
didn't you give it nte afore ?* 

" Because it's poison !" cried the poor docton 
" I tell you there's poison enough in this bottle 
to kill you half a dozen times over. Do you 
think I want to kill you ?" 

" No, doctor, no — an' you didn't want to kill 
Mr. Gibson neither, cw you wouldn't have put 
that bottle o' stuff up for him. You can easy 
send him another ; an' I*m sure I want it the 
most — now just give it us, an' as soon as Ben's 
got a day to spare, he'll come an' dig up your 
back garden for you " 

" I tell you I can't," cried the doctor. " Do 
you think I want to have your death at my door .^ 
Send round in the morning, and I'll let you have 
something that's really fit for you ; but I'd 
sooner throw this bottle out of window than it 
should fall into your hands.'* 

He took up his hat, and angrily saying good 
night was about to leave the room, when the 
sound of uproarious voices below arrested him. 
He stopped and turned pale. Tozer had come 
home, and the friends he had brought with 
him were evidently tipsy like himself — so tipsy, 
that they would be likely to stop at nothing, but 
ivould be as ready as not first to rob the doctor. 


and then maltreat him past all his own powers 
of physic or plastering to cure. 

" Is there no getting out any way but through 
the room below ?" he asked, nervously, turning 
with a white, scared face to Granny Tozer, who 
saw his fright and enjoyed it, determining in her 
own mind to punish him through it for refusing 
to give her the medicine she had asked him for. 

"No, you must go through there— it's the 
only way," she replied ; " an* Ben's brought a 
rare lot o' roughs home with him to-noight, an' 
he's got a drop in his head himself, too, by the 
sound of his voice — els^* — ^and she laid an 
ominous emphasis on the "else" — "you'd be 
safe enough ; but when Ben's in drink he's as 
bad as the worst — not that I ever cast it up to 
him, for he's sorry enough when it's all over ; 
besides, what 'ud be the good of talking to him 
then ?" 

Just what the doctor thought — where would 
be the good of talking to Mr. Benjamin Tozer 
when he had broken his head and otherwise ill- 
used him.^ The voices below were becoming 
more and more uproarious ; it was evident that 
the men were in that stage called " quarrelsome 
drunk," and would be ready enough to leave off 
attacking each other in order to fall upon the 
doctor. Go through that room vAviXfc \\.\v^$^ >x^ 

\ 1 


present occupants he could not, but things might 
be worse when they left, if Mr. Tozer came up- 
stairs and heard his amiable lady's account of 
the manner in which the physic she demanded 
had been withheld from her. Dr. Jeflferies fairly 
trembled, and Granny Tozer saw it and rejoiced. 

" If you'd only a-given me that bottle when I 
asked you," she said, "you'd have been gone 
long afore this, and no need to have gone near 
any on 'em. I shouldn't wonder but Tozer '11 
be comin' up in another minnit to see how I'm 
a-gettin' on ; an' when he hears about the stuflf 
he'll be that angry there'll be no holdin' on him. 
He's a good critter, is Tozer, and can't a-bear to 
see his poor wife put upon." 

"Is there no way out.?" asked the doctor. 
" Isn't there another room I could go into for a 
while r 

" No, we've only this one upstairs ; and there's 
no other way out but through the w^indow, where 
you talked of throwing the physic," said Granny 
Tozer, chuckling maliciously. 

Through the window ! It opened on the back 
of the house, so that if it were possible to get 
out that way, he might escape unseen by those 
in the room below. It was not very high from 
the ground, would it be possible to drop from it } 
It was a desperate and not very digtvifved resource, 


but Dr. Jefferies opened the window and looked 
out to see if it was not practicable. 

''Youll have to squeeze through, for you're 
stoutish, doctor/' said Granny Tozer; "but I 
dunno but it's the best thing you can do. YouVe 
got your watch — why ever do you wear it when 
you go out o' noights t As like as not Tozer or 
any o* them may take a fancy to it, an' if you 
doan't give it up quietly there's no knowing what 
may come of it. Men want a deal o' managin' 
when they've taken more cider nor they ought." 

The doctor saw that he should have a squeeze, 
and if he did fall head foremost he would be 
almost worse off than if he remained where he 
was, and took his chance of Mr. Tozer's mal- 
treatment. While he was hesitating what he 
had better do, a waggon loaded with hay came 
near the house, the horses going at an almost 
funeral pace, while the waggoner was indulging 
in a nap. The hay was piled so high that it 
almost reached the bottom of the window. 
Could he spring upon that (he surely might do 
it at the pace the horses were going), and so be 
safely borne away from granny and her affec- 
tionate husband ? The lane at the back of the 
cottages was so narrow that the waggon must of 
necessity pass within a foot of their wall, and the 
moon shining full and cleat ^a\^ \.Vv^ 4Ki^<^x 


plenty of light to see what he was about. He 
determined to make the effort — fall into Mr. 
Tozer's hands he would not if possible — any- 
thing almost would be better than that. The 
waggon came slowly on, the waggoner slumber- 
ing peacefully the while ; the doctor stretched 
forward out of the window — ^he could touch the 
hay with his hand — should he venture it } Granny 
Tozer settled the question. 

" Look sharp, doctor. I do believe Tozer's 
on the stairs." 

Dr. Jefferies pushed himself through the 
window, and in another second was nestling 
down in the hay, congratulating himself on his 
escape and on his being able to return so com- 
fortably into the town, towards which the waggon 
seemed making its way. He would wake the 
waggoner when be found himself near his own 
house, ask him to assist him in dismounting, and 
then niake the best of his way home, where he 
had no doubt his guests were anxiously expect- 
ing him. And, so thinking, the doctor curled 
himself yet more snugly up in the hay, pulled 
some tarpauling that was lying on part of it 
over his shoulders, and before he was aware of 
what he was about found himself lulled by the 
slow, r^ular movement of the horses into a 
sound, refreshing sleep. 



■HHN went the wa^on, lumbering away till it 
HKl had left Bridgetown some way behind it 
The horses knew the road they had to take, and 
went soberly along without requiring whip or 
rein from their driver, who slept as comfortably 
as the doctor did, till the horses made a sudden 
jolt, owing to some roughness in the road, and 
so woke them both. The doctor sat up on the 
top of the waggon, rubbed his eyes, and looked 
about him. Where was he ? Not at Bridgetown, 
that was clear ; for the moon was shining full 
and bright, its rays displaying to the doctor's 
eye a wide expanse of common, dotted with here 
and there a tree or a clump of blackberry bushe^ 
and now and then silvering a small pond, where 
in fine weather children would fish for tittlebats, 
or older anglers bring out dace and chub. 


It couldn't be — could it ? — Bracken Common, 
full four miles from Bridgetown ; but it looked 
very like it, and the doctor's heart misgave him. 
Bracken Common was the loneliest, dreariest 
place for miles round ; the doctor would not 
have crossed it after nightfall for any considera- 
tion could he have helped it ; and now here was 
he alone with a waggoner, who for aught he 
knew might be as ready as any of Tozer's friends 
to help himself to his watch, now that he had 
such an excellent opportunity of doing so with- 
out any let or hindrance but what the doctor 
himself might give him. Whatever could have 
made him be so foolish as to go to sleep, when, 
if he had only had the common sense to keep 
awake, he might have been back in his own 
drawing-room by this time, playing a rubber 
with Mrs. Preston and the Rector } But the 
waggoner might be a decent person after all, and 
willing for a small consideration to take the 
doctor back as far as Bridgetown — should he try ? 
If he could only see the man^s face, and ascertain 
whether or not he was a stranger to him, he 
should know better what to do. He leaned 
forward and tried to look down on the waggoner, 
who, hearing the rustling of the hay, looked up, 
and seeing the doctor's face, was naturally angry 
at his having got to the top of ticve v^ag^oiv V\>3sv- 


out permission, and said, in a surly voice — " Who 
be ye, and how are ye gotten there ?" 

The doctor tried to explain matters, but the 
waggoner was in no humour to receive such 
explanations in as friendly a manner as could 
have been wished. And he positively refused to 
go back an inch of the way to Bridgetown ; but, 
stopping the horses, told the doctor he must dis- 
mount at once, and get back to Bridgetown the 
best way he could. " He was going to Lunnon 
himself, and could na be turning here and there, 
driving first one way and then the other, just to 
please folks who thought fit to get into his wag- 
gon without even so much as saying, by your 

There was nothing for it but to get down, 
which the doctor did, rather disarranging his 
attire in so doing, and breaking several of the 
buttons ofT one of his gaiters. The waggoner 
whipped his horses to make them go on faster, 
and Dr. Jeflferies found himself alone on the wide 
bleak common. 

" Very uncivil man — ^very," he said to himself, 
"and this place is the worst walking in all 
Somerset even in daylight ; and with nothing but 
the moon to light me, however shall I pick my 
way ?" 

How indeed ? The commotv vj^s mox^ \^^ "^ 


swamp at this time of the year, and the wet, 
boggy earth gave way at every step beneath the 
doctor's tread. His shoes were soon wet through, 
and his gaiters too. On he went, hoping soon 
to reach the cart-road, a beaten track that ran 
across the common, and led from Boreham 
towards Bridgetown, and where he would find 
firmer footing ; but the horses that drew the 
waggon had not cared to make for this when 
they came to the common, but struck right across 
it, that being the nearest way to the village where 
they should find their quarters for the night ; 
so that he was some distance from it, and the 
difficulty of walking made his progress extremely 

But that was not all ; the common had a bad 
repute, as being the resort of gipsies and poachers, 
and the doctor did not care to meet any of these 
just then. He looked nervously around ; no 
one was in sight, for which he felt thankful, and 
tried to make his way a little faster. But it was 
of no use, his feet were so clogged and heavy, 
and the earth seemed to take a pleasure in trying 
to hold him fast. 

" Ugh !" shuddered Dr. Jefferies ; " who would 
be a medical man ! I shall be laid up a week 
after this night's work, and that young upstart 
Wheatley will be called in to all my patients. 


There's iw getting over this ground. I feel every 
minute as if I should be up to my knees. Talk 
of martyrs — I'm sure I'm one to my profession. 
People speak of leading a dog's life — ^why, they'd 
much better speak of a doctor's ; being called 
out every hour of the day and night to attend to 
other people's ailments, at the risk of getting 
robbed and murdered, and getting one*s death of 
cold into the bargain. Oh! dear! dear! dear! 
if there isn't a man coming as fast as he can 
after me." 

So there was, and a very formidable figure he 
looked in the moonlight, being tall, powerfully 
made, dressed — as far as the doctor could judge 
— in the everyday clothes of a working man, but 
carrying across his shoulder a stout walking 
stick, which the doctor's fears metamorphosed 
into a bludgeon ; — and what business had any 
decent working man with that — he wore a flat 
cap, and his face was tied up with a red hand- 
kerchief, so as partly to conceal his features. 

" He may well try to hide his face," thought 
the doctor. " He's some good reason, I've no 
doubt, for wanting to do it. If he isn't coming 
faster and faster. What a shame it is to keep 
the common in this state ! I can't get over the 
ground ! But that fellow's gaining on me. Oh ! 
good gracious ! What's he holloaing for ?" 


The doctor tried to run, but it was useless. 
His legs shook under him, and it seemed as if 
his feet could not leave the firm sticky earth 
which clung so pertinaciously to them. His 
fears redoubled when the man who was following 
him cried out, in a peremptory voice, " Hallo I 
stop there." 

" Not if I can help it," thought Doctor J efferiesj 
and tried his best to increase the distance between 
himself and his pursuer, who appeared to be 
irritated by his doing so ;^for he cried out, in a 
louder and more angry voice, " Stop, I tell you — 
which is the nighest road to Kingsford ?" 

" I — I — don't know," cried the doctor, trem- 
bling more than ever, and still going on as fast as 
he could. 

"Which is the way to Kingsford.?" cried the 
man, in a more peremptory tone than before. 

"I — I can't tell. Fm a stranger in these 
parts," said the doctor, who knew very well that 
the best way to Kingsford was the track he was 
himself pursuing. 

" Which is the way to Kingsford ?" was re- 
peated in a yet louder voice than before. " Stop, 
I tell ye." 

" I wont !" cried the doctor, and hastened 
forward as fast as he could, feeling sure that 
these pertinacious questions were only an excuse 


to cause him to remain still. But his fears were 
groundless. The man who was following him 
was only a blacksmith out of work, who had 
been told that he might obtain employment at 
Kingsford, and was making the best of his way 
towards it, and being quite new to the neigh- 
bourhood, as he came from a town some distance 
ofT, had very naturally asked his way when he 
felt uncertain whether he was going in the right 
track. He had been suffering for some days past 
from a severe cold and face-ache, which was the 
reason he was so muffled up, and the last day 
or two had become quite deaf in consequence of 
it, a fact of which he was not yet conscious him- 
self, and therefore as he had not heard one of 
the doctor's replies to his questions he con- 
sidered himself rudely treated, and felt inclined 
to resent this apparent want of civility. If Dr. 
Jefferies would only have faced his danger, he 
would have found after all that there was none 
to face — not at all an uncommon thing, I can 
assure you, boys. 

" If you don't stop, I'll make you," called out 
the blacksmith, getting more and more incensed 
with the doctor's want of good manners, and 
waving his stick in a threatening manner. 

"Of course he will," thought the doctor. 
** Break my head with that bludgeon, if he gets 


the chance. Where's that pistol ? If I can 
only get it out ! I don't want to kill him, so I 
think ril try and hit him in the right arm. Here 
it is. Stand off, I tell you, or Til fire — I will, if 
you don't keep your distance." 

The blacksmith stared. He was not prepared 
for this, but not being half so much frightened 
at the pistol as the doctor was who held it, he 
came a little nearer and saw that, though pointed 
at him, it was held upside down, the doctor in 
his nervous trepidation being quite unaware of 
the fact ; he gave a little contemptuous laugh, 
twirled his stick rapidly round, and in another 
second had brought it full on the pistol and 
dashed it out of the doctor's hand. . It went off 
of itself, and the smoke and explosion were 
altogether too much for Dr. Jefferies, who was 
not sure whether the pistol had wounded him or 
his pursuer, but felt sure that as it had gone off 
it must have done one or the other. However, 
wounded or not, he did not feel disposed to stand 
there a moment longer than he could help, and 
turned to fly ; he made two or three steps, and 
then missing his footing fell down, breaking the 
bottle of medicine in his fall, and slightly wound- 
ing himself through his shirt and waistcoat with 
one of the sharp edges of the pieces of glass. 

" I'm hit," he groaned ; " the villain's done for 


me. I don't know — if it's only the pericardium, 
it's not necessarily fatal. I may be saved yet, if 
I can only make a run for it." 

He picked himself up and tottered forward as 
fast as he could, just taking one glance back, 
which added to his terror by showing him the 
blacksmith with the pistol in his hand. 

" Means to fire again ! the merciless villain ! 
I must reach the cart track as fast as I can. It's 
just possible some one may be going that way." 

He went forward as fast as he could — the cart 
track lay clear before him — if he could only 
reach that there was a chance of safety. You 
may be sure he did not stop to pick his steps 
now, especially as the blacksmith came running 
after him, pistol in hand. 

" Means to murder me outright, rob me, and 
throw me into one of these ponds," thought the 
doctor, and found himself plashing, in his in- 
cautious haste, right into one of the very ponds 
he spoke of. It was by no means a deep one — 
none of the ponds on the common were — but it 
was a very unpleasant pond to get into for all 
that, being tenanted by those especial favourites 
of the doctor's — leeches. The water was cold, 
but the doctor never heeded that; it did not 
come up to his thighs, so he waded through it 
towards the other side, which was very near the 


cart track of the common. His movements were 
necessarily slow, and they caused a great deal of 
disturbance to the leeches, who were naturally 
annoyed at such an unseasonable intrusion. As I 
have said, some of the buttons of one of the doctor's 
gaiters had given way, and if the truth must be 
told, one of his silk stockings had come down, 
so that a few of the leeches being aroused from 
their sleep found that there was some chance of 
supper, and fastened on the leg which was un- 
protected. The doctor felt their bites, but in his 
fright never ascribed them to the true cause, but 
imagined the pistol-shot had wounded him in 
the leg as well as the breast. 

" Even if IVe strength to get home," he 
thought, " I shall be laid up for a month. Why, 
the whole of the small shot with which I loaded 
that pistol must have gone into me. It's impossible 
for me to extract it myself, and I shall have to 
call in that fellow Wheatley. To think of my 
having to put myself under his hands, and of 
his having the credit of curing me ! I really feel 
as if rd almost sooner not be cured at all than 
let him do it." 

He got out of the pond on the other side by 
the help of a tree which stood near, and then 
went towards the cart track with redoubled hope 
as he heard the sound of wheels. 


" There's a chance for me now," he thought ; 
** if they're only decent people I may be saved after 
all. So much for being called out at nights ; 
and I dare say that Gibson will think himself 
very ill-used if I make any extra charge on 
account of all this. Oh, dear ! oh, dear ! if I 
could only put my own case down in his bill 
what a long one it would be !" 

The cart came nearer ; it was an open one. 
A boy was driving it, and a couple of others 
were on the seat with him. 

"Only boys," thought the doctor. "Well, 
there isn't likely to be much harm in them, and 
they'll surely give me a lift if I promise them 
sixpence. There seems plenty of room behind." 
He raised his voice as they came near. " Stop — 
where are you going } Can you take me on to 
Bridgetown .?" 

The driver of the cart drew in his horse, and 
a shrill little voice, which sounded unpleasantly 
familiar in the doctor's ears, called out, " Why, 
if it isn't Uncle Jefferies ! Hallo, uncle, who'd 
have thought of seeing you at this time of 
night r 

" It's that dreadful child !" thought the doctor, 
as he recognised Peculiar, Tom, and Dick. But 
there was no help for it. It was much better 
to ride home in company with little Jack than to 



be left behind on the cold, bleak moor ; besides,, 
he saw the formidable stranger hastening after 
him. There was no time to be lost. " Help me 
in, boys — help me in," he said. " IVe been 
attacked by a highwayman, and had a narrow 
escape of my life. There he is — don't you see 
9 him coming this way as fast as he can Y' 

He tried to scramble into the cart, and Tom^ 
leaning over, helped him in and placed him as 
comfortably as he could in the back part 
of it. 

"Drive on, boys! drive on! Therell be 
murder done if, you don't — don't stop for him — 
don't mind a word he says. I tell you he 
knocked my pistol out of my hand, fired it off, 
and I believe I've a dozen shots in every part of 
my body." 

The doctor was shaking and trembling all 
over, for the stranger was coming fast towards 
the cart, and once more, in stentorian tones, he 
shouted out — " Stop ! which is the way to Kings- 
ford r 

" Don't mind him, boys !^<lon't mind him !" 
cried the doctor,. " but drive on as fast as you 
can, or we shall all be murdered !" 

" What ! and he's one against four !" cried 
littie Jack, who had a great opinion of his own 
prowess ; *' I should like to see "Vum V 


"Whats that he's got in his hand?" asked 
Tom ; " he's holding it out towards us." 

" I do believe it's a pistol !" "cried Jack. "Oh^ 
I say Tom, he's a real live robber !" 

" Hallo, there ! stop !" cried the man. " Have 
you got the good gentleman there that this be- 
longs to ?" and he held out the pistol as he spoke. 

" Don't answer him ! — don't answer him !" cried 
the doctor, " and drive on, do, before he blows all 
our brains out." 

"Why don't you answer one.^" cried the 
stranger. " And carit you tell me the road to 
Kingsford ?" 

" Straight before you," cried Dick, and he 
pointed in the direction of the town as he spoke ; 
and if the blacksmith did not hear the words, he 
saw the outstretched arm and understood Dick's 

"All right!" he shouted. " I see you've got the 
gentleman there as this belongs to. Give him 
this with my respects, and tell him not to be so 
precious uncivil the next time he's asked a ques- 
tion on the road." He flung the pistol, as he 
spoke, into the cart, and strode on in the direction 
of Kingsford. 

" Has he gone T said Doctor Jefferies, looking 
timidly round ; " now do drive on, that's good 
boys. You may rely upon it Vve's orX-^ ^q^^\s> 

¥. 7. 


fetch some of his companions. He thought when 
he saw you all you*d be too many for him." 

" I should think we would !" cried Jack. 
" Don't be afraid, uncle, youVe all right now ; 
we'll take care of you ;" and Jack drew himself 
up and looked as if he felt confident in his own 
capabilities of thrashing a dozen highwaymen if 
need be. Where did he shoot you, uncle ? Don't 
I wish rd just seen him." 

" Has he hurt you, sir ?" asked Dick. '* Did 
he really fire the pistol off ?" 

" It was fired, whether he did it or not," re- 
plied the doctor, testily. " It's wounded me 
here," and he placed his hand in a pathetic 
manner on his chest ; " and I'm sure by the pain 
there's half a dozen shots in my left leg. It's 
quite wonderful how I managed to get from him 
as I did. But I feel quite faint already with the 
loss of blood. Would one of you boys pull this 
gaiter up for me .? It's a bad thing for the cold 
air to get at gun-shot wounds." 

Tom was driving, so Dick came to the back of 
the cart, and stooping down began very gently 
to pull up the doctor's gaiter. 

" Why, you're sopping wet, sir !" he exclaimed ; 
" whatever mess have you been getting into .?" 

" Oh, I ran into a pond to get away from the 
villain, " cried the doctor. " A.tvyt\vm^, y ow kwow. 


to escape from such a monster, and Tm nearly- 
wet through. Tm afraid, too," he added, ruefully, 
" I've spoiled my best black breeches. But do 
be quick, that's good boys, for it's time my 
wounds were seen to." 

He leaned back in the cart quite exhausted 
apd closed his eyes, as if very bad indeed. Tom 
felt quite concerned for his uncle, and was very 
much surprised to see Dick take his place by his 
side looking exceedingly cheerful, as if there was 
not the slightest occasion for any anxiety. Dick, 
too, whom he had always thought so good 
natured. And presently Dick began puffing out 
his cheeks and screwing up his eyes as if he was 
enjoying a great joke that he hardly knew how 
to keep to himself ; at last, after looking round 
and feeling satisfied that the doctor was too ab- 
sorbed in his own miseries to attend to him, he 
bent forward and whispered to Tom, "'Tisn't 
pistol-shots that's the matter with him ; he's been 
in the leech-pond ! And oh ! I say, ain't some 
of those little blackies having a feast ?" 

" What, are they on him now ?" cried Tom. 
" Why didn't you take them off .^ You'll never 
leave them to suck away at him like that ?" 

" Wont I T said Dick ; " he's fond enough of 
letting them suck away at other people. There's 
oxAy seven or eight of them, atvd \ooWqw TCNascj 


he's sent in to master. Let's see now how he 
likes them himself." 

Tom did not feel disposed to dispute the point 
with Dick, for he felt rather pleased on the whole 
that the doctor should suffer a little of the same 
treatment he was so fond of inflicting on his 
patients, so he drove on, now and then turning 
round to see how the doctor was getting on, v/hile 
Jack amused himself with speculations as to 
where his uncle had been shot, and whom he 
would have for his doctor, — " Because you know, 
Tom, he can't be his own." 

" And a very good thing for him, too," said 
Dick. " Shall we take you right up to your own 
house, sir.?" he added, turning round and ad- 
dressing the doctor very politely. 

" Yes, please," was the feeble reply ; " I don't 
feel as if I could walk a step. We're near the 
town now, ain't we V* 

** Getting nigh, sir," replied Dick ; " how do 
you feel now ?" 

" Worse than I ever did in my life," groaned 
the doctor ; " getting weaker and weaker every 

" Ain't those leeches having a treat ?" whis- 
pered Dick to Tom. "I hope this '11 teach him 
Jiot to be so fond of giving them to other people." 
It was not long before ticiey vjex^ ^.\. Y^t.^^C- 


feries* house. The light shone from the parlour 
and drawing-room windows. Mrs. Jefferies had 
not had her shutters closed ; she liked her neigh- 
bours to know that she was having a party. And 
the doctor looked up to his house. 

" Knock at the door, and get me out as quick 
as you can, that s good boys," he said, faintly ; 
*^ they'll have to make a bed up for me in the 
parlour ; I shall never be able to get upstairs." 

Dick jumped down and gave a thundering rat- 
tat, which startled everybody in the drawing- 
room ; they looked at one another in amaze. All 
the company had come ; was it the doctor himself 
returned, or had anybody else been taken ill, and 
did they require his services immediately ? If so, 
they must be either very ill, or people of great 
consequence, for their messenger to give such a 
knock as that. While these thoughts were pass- 
ing through the minds of Mrs. Jefferies' guests, 
and that lady herself was declaring it couldn't be 
the doctor, but that somebody must be wanting 
him out again, and how hard it was he never 
could have a quiet hour at home, or a pleasant 
chat with his friends, the drawing-room door was 
flung wide open, and a small boy, with a tattered 
old collar, a bright rosy face, sharp keen little 
eyes, and patched clothes much too small for 
him, walked boldly in, and going straight utj to 


Mrs. Jefferies, said, *' It's all right, aunt ; we've 
got him." 

Mrs. Jefferies' heart sank within her. Was this 
shabby little boy that called her aunt, really her 
own sister's child } And w/w was it he had got f 
Mrs. Brown felt almost as uncomfortable as her 
sister, but Mrs. General Mauriel was delighted 
with the scene. 

" Who are you, my good little man r she 

" Little Jack Dunstone, — Tom Dunstone*s my 
brother, and I've come to tell Aunt Jefferies we've 
got uncle outside ; picked him up on the com- 
mon when he was running away from some 
fellow that frightened him. Why, there's Uncle 
Preston," said Jack, looking round him, "and 
Aunt Brown ! I say, Fred, if you hit me again, 
do you know what Tom says r 

" What, my dear T' said Mrs. General, patting 
Jack's head encouragingly ; and then, addressing 
the company with a benevolent smile, added, 
^* What an intelligent little fellow !" 

" Why," he says, replied Jack, " that if ever 
Fred hits me again, he'll give him such a drub- 
bing as 11 take some of the nonsense out of him ; 
and he will too," continued Jack. " He always 
keeps his word, Tom does." 

'' Will you have some cake, tcvy d^^x V ?»^.\d 


Mrs. Brown, thinking it best to try and stop the 
boy's mouth. 

** Yes, thank you," said Jack, taking a piece, 
but keeping it untouched in order to share it 
with Tom ; then he looked up to Mrs. General, 
and said, confidentially, "Uncle's in such a mess!*' 

*'Is he, my dear.?" said that lady, graciously. 
" How did he get in it T 

"Got frightened by some fellow that came 
after him, and ran into a pond, so we picked him 
up, and brought him home in the cart. The man 
came up to us, but we didn't mind him. He'd 
know better than to meddle with us, you know." 

There was a noise in the hall outside, and pre- 
sently Dr. Jefferies appeared, supported by Tom 
and Dick. He looked very different indeed to 
what he had done when he had gone out two 
hours previously, and sinking down in a chair, 
murmured — 

" I've been waylaid by a ruffian, and wounded 
in half a dozen different places !" 

Mrs. Jefferies shrieked ; but the Rector, who 
was not quite so much alarmed as she was, went 
up to the doctor, and said, " Where has he hurt 
you, my dear sir ?" 

" Here — in the pericardium, and in the leg. If 
I've one shot in me I'm certain I've a dozen," 
said the doctor^ faintly. 


Mrs. Jefferies began to consider whether as an 
affectionate wife it was not incumbent on her 
• to faint. Mrs. General Mauriel observed that the 
pistol did not appear to have done any damage to 
the doctor's coat. Jack quietly pushed a piece of , 
his cake into Tom*s hand, and another portion 
into Dick's, and began munching the rest com- 
posedly, and the Rector unfastened the doctor's 
outer garments, and addressing the Squire, said, 
" If the ladies will stand back we'll see the extent 
of the damage." 

The ladies drew away, and began to condole 
with Mrs. Jefferies, all excepting Mrs. General 
Mauriel, who said she was a soldier s wife, and 
might be of some use. When the Rector un-^ 
buttoned the doctor's coat he saw a dark stain 
on his light waistcoat which looked ominous. Mrs. 
Jefferies caught a glimpse of it, and shrieked — 

" He'll never get over it — he can't ! Look ! — 
look ! — ^his waistcoat is saturated with his blood !" 

" I never saw blood of that colour," said Mrs. 
General, looking round composedly. '* It's my 
belief it's physic." 

The Rector unfastened the waistcoat, and out 

tumbled the remains of the fatal bottle which had 

been the origin of all the doctor's troubles. Mrs. 

General picked up the fragments, and held them 



*' If s only a mistake the doctor's made. He's 
half-killed himselfwith his own physic — ^that's all." 

" Ah, dear, then it was into my leg the villain 
fired," murmured the doctor. " It's a good thing 
for me if all the shots did go there. I may get 
off with only being lamed for life." 

Mrs. General glanced at his gaiters. "There's 
something wrong there," she said ; and stooping 
down unfastened the one on his left leg, thinking 
the while what a poor helpless creature Mrs. 
Jefferies was, not to be seeing to her husband 
herself. " By the look of things I should fancy 
he is hit here," she said to the Rector, "and if so, 
we'd better send for Wheatley at once." In 
another minute she saw what it really was that 
had wounded the doctor, and giving a sharp cry, 
started back. 

" The nasty, horrid wretches ! If the doctor 
hasn't got half a dozen of his own leeches on !" 

Every one forgot their politeness and gentility, 
and burst into a loud laugh, above which little 
Jack's shrill voice was heard :-— 

"Ah! he's always saying he's so partial to 

This seemed more than Mrs. Jefferies could 
bear. She boxed Jack's ears, and asked him 
how he dared insult her husband, and desired 
Tom^ Dick^ and him to leave th^ xootcv d\x^^^ . 


They did so at once, Tom taking hold of Jack's 
hand, and saying, in a quiet but very audible 
voice, " I am quite as ready as you, ma'am, to 
forget you were my mother's sister. Did she 
hurt you. Jack ?" he whispered, when they were 
once more in the cart. 

" Not much — I didn't mind," said Jack, nestling 
up to Tom. 

Dick took the reins and drove off, saying, as 
he did so, " What a nice set of relations you've 
got to be sure, Tom !" 


jack's adventure when he went to buy the tea- 

|RS. JEFFERIES called on Mrs. Brown the 
next morning, and the two consulted 
together as to what had better be done to 
erase from people's minds the very unpleasant 
impression little Jack's appearance at the 
party, and his recognition of them as rela- 
tives, must have. They hardly knew what to 
do ; as they said, people liad such tongues, 
and were always so fond of abusing their neigh- 
bours, and Mrs. Jefferies and Mrs. Brown, being 
the chief leaders of society in the place, were sure 
to be considered fit subjects for all the ill-natured 
remarks that could be made about them. They 
were both of them very much vexed with the 
whole affair ; and as they could do nothing else, 
began finding fault with their late . sister for 
marrying a farmer, and with her husband for 


dying so badly off, and leaving his children "to 
disgrace every respectable person who had the 
misfortune to be connected with them." 

They both felt a great deal better after they 
had gone on in this strain for about half an hour, 
and then they resolved to have nothing further to 
do with their two nephews, but to persist in the 
system they had adopted of ignoring their exis- 
tence completely, and to hope that by so doing 
other people might be led to forget that Seth 
Wilkins*s apprentice, and that horrible little 
creature whom Ambrose Dunstone was keeping 
out of charity, were in any way related to the two 
chief ladies of Bridgetown. Then Mrs. Jefferies 
called in her Frederick, and Mrs. Brown her 
Augustus, and they severely cautioned these 
young gentlemen against having anything to do 
with those very low boys, the young Dunstones 
— ^who it was very clear were not at all fit com- 
pany for any respectable, well-brought up lads. 

Fred and Gussy promised obedience, and then 
they were told they might, if they pleased, go 
out together for a little stroll, but to be sure to 
come in to tea in good time, as Mrs. Jefferies was 
to stay and partake of that meal with her sister. 

Away the two went. They had been charged 
not to get into mischief, and to have nothing to 
say, not only to the young Dunstones, but to any 



other boys of a similar class. Mrs. Jefferies and 
Mrs. Brown would both have been very much 
shocked had either of their sons associated with 
"tradespeople's boys ;" and both Master Frederick 
and Master Augustus were very ready to adopt 
all their mammas' exalted notions ; having a great 
opinion of themselves and of their own personal 
consequence. Augustus, however, was not alto- 
gether a boy to be trusted. He thought it a fine 
thing to be a solicitor's son, and was looking 
forward rather proudly to being an articled clerk, 
though he was not to become one till he was 
sixteen, which would not be for two years to 
come. Still, when a fit of mischief came upon 
Augustus he was apt to forget his dignity, and 
behave himself in rather an eccentric manner. 
There was a curious method about him too. Let 
him be concerned in whatever he might, he never 
forgot to take care of his clothes ; and though he 
was often seen in places where he had no busi- 
ness to be, and engaged in pranks that would 
have made his father exceedingly angry had he 
known of them, no one ever surprised Master 
Augustus Brown out of doors without his gloves. 
He might be guilty of many improprieties, but 
not of that Augustus would have thought him- 
self insulted had you even hinted at such a thing. 
He was not a bad boy — not by any means so 


bad as might have been expected. Willing 
enough to do a good-natured turn when it gave 
him no particular trouble to do it ; not so truthful 
as he should be, which was a serious thing ; but 
then truth-telling had never been particularly in- 
culcated upon him. His mamma had taken great 
pains to teach him to be polite, to take off his hat 
whenever he met a lady, and to give her the wall 
as a matter of course ; to take care of his clothes, 
and to put them on neatly ; and having attended 
to these very important points she left the rest 
to take care of itself, thinking she did all that was 
necessary in sending Augustus to a very " gen- 
teel " school, from whence tradesmen's sons were 
carefully excluded, and in taking him with her to 
church every Sunday. 

Fred was a much worse boy than his cousin, 
cruel and hard, as well as thoughtless and mis- 
chievous ; one whose faults you felt would ripen 
in time, and might be developed into crimes. 
Gussy was always worse when with his cousin — 
as much worse as he might have been better if his 
mamma would have let him associate with plain, 
honest, good-hearted Tom Dunstone. 

The two boys walked on together, Fred with 

his hands in his pockets, Gussy twirling his little 

cane round and round, and they soon came near 

old Quarle's house. They were c\uite as ready. 


for all their gentility, to play the old miser a trick, 
as would have been any of the "tradesmen's 
boys" their mammas had so warned them 
against. The only question was, What should 
it be? Should they imitate the postman's 
knock, and then run away ? The chances were 
that the old man would not trouble himself to 
comie, being so used to have his knocker taken 
liberties with that he had quite given up going 
to the door ; and even when the postman did 
come, he had to thrust the letters he brought 
under the door, as he never could get Mr. Quarle 
to open it to him. Gussy and Fred knew some- 
thing of this, so that they considered knocking 
would be of no use. Should they throw stones 
at the windows } That might have done very 
well, only there was no glass left in any of them 
to break, they had been so often pelted, and the 
old man had lately taken to securing the lower 
windows with shutters, so that there was no 
peeping through them, or amusing themselves 
by calling him names or paying him personal 
compliments. No ; it was very unfortunate, 
but there seemed no getting any fun out of 
Jacob Quarle that day, which was rather hard, 
as there appeared no other bit of mischief in the 
way. Nothing at all to divert them — nothing ; 
till by good luck as they thought it, th^'^ ^-a:?^ 


little Jack coming along by himself. He had been 
sent out to buy cakes for tea. Tom and Dick 
were very busy, and their master could not con- 
veniently spare them; so little Jack, who was 
by this time sufficiently familiar with the town, 
was despatched for the tea-cakes, which were a 
regale in honour of Dick's birthday, after which, 
when work would be over, they were to have 
oranges and roast chestnuts. 

Gussy had no particular feelings either in 
Jack's favour or against him. Of course he did 
not care to have anything to do with a little 
fellow who was so shabbily dressed, especially 
as his mamma considered him not genteel enough 
for his acquaintance ; but he would have con- 
tented himself with passing him by as beneath 
his notice, and done him no further injury than 
regarding him with contempt (which I am inclined 
to think would not have hurt Jack very much), 
if he had not had Fred with him. But, unluckily, 
Fred was with him, and his sentiments towards 
Jack were by no means of the same calmly disdain- 
ful kind as those that superb young dandy, Gussy, 
entertained towards him. He had not forgiven 
Tom the blow he had struck him for ill-using 
Jack, but it was not very easy to punish Tom, 
unless in the person of his little brother ; and 
here was Jack, alone, walking towards him, as if 


for the very purpose. And Frederick had other 
wrongs to avenge. Jack had annoyed him very 
much by accosting him familiarly on several 
occasions. He evidently would not forget that 
Master Frederick Jefferies, who in right of his 
papa's being a doctor, felt himself entitled to 
look down upon every tradesman in the town, 
was his cousin — his — that shabby little creature, 
whose father was a farmer, and who was now 
actually being maintained out of charity ; and 
Fred had been very much annoyed at school on 
Jack and Tom's account He was not nearly so 
popular as Gussy, and the boys finding that his 
cousins were a sore subject with him, took a 
malicious pleasure in taunting him with them. 
It would be, *' How's your cousin the carpenter, 
Jefferies ?" and then they would imitate the 
grating of a saw ; or, " Jefferies, when you're a 
doctor you'll be able to give your cousin a lift. 
He'll do well if he has to make coffins for 
all you kill ;" or, " What sort of a farmer's boy 
does your little cousin make, Jefferies ? When 
will he be big enough to follow the plough ?" 
And all this was very annoying to Fred, who 
would have been quite as pleased as his mamma 
that every one should remain in ignorance of his 
poor relations. 
And here was little Jack comm^, m^ t^O^^^s:^ 


to protect him or take his part, and nobody- 
likely to do so either ; for Quarle's house was at 
the extreme end of the street in which it was 
situated, and at no time of the day were there 
many passers-by, but especially not at the close 
of the afternoon. Nobody in sight but little Jack, 
and little Jack coming on quite unconscious of 
the danger that threatened him. He came nearer 
and nearer, so busy thinking how many pieces 
each cake would cut up into, and how much that 
would be for each person's portion, that he never 
noticed his cousins till he felt Fred's hand on his 
neck and heard him say, gruffly, "Now then, 
young fellow, what mischief are you after ?" 
. Jack looked up, and struggled to get away, 
but it was not very easy to do so. Fred held him 
fast, and began asking Gussy what they should 
do with him, to which Gussy replied by making 
most horrible faces at poor little Jack, which 
however had not the slightest effect on that little 
hero's nerves ; for he looked Gussy coolly in the 
face, and said, "You needn't make yourself any- 
uglier than you are, Gus." 

" Where are you going to, you impudent little 
monkey T cried Fred, giving Jack a shaking. 

" Sha'n't tell," replied Jack, holding his money 
tightly, for fear it should drop out of his hand 
through Fred's ill-treatmeut. 


" How dare you speak like that to gentlemen ?" 
said Gussy, loftily. " It's time you were taught 
manners, young Impudence." 

" Then I sha'n't come to you to teach me/' 
replied Jack ; " for Mrs. Wilkins says youVe the 
two worst behaved boys in the town, and it's a 
great pity Uncle Jefferies and Uncle Brown don't 
know half the tricks you're after." 

" Upon my word," said Master Gussy, " you're 
a nice boy to talk. I've two minds to give you 
a thorough good caning." 

" I'll tell Tom if you do," said Jack, with one 
of his most emphatic nods. 

" You will, will you ?" cried Gussy, and gave 
Jack one or two rather sharp cuts with his cane, 
which made the little fellow wince, though he was 
too proud to cry out. But this was not enough 
for Fred, who told Jack that unless he would tell 
them where he was going, and beg their pardon 
for his impudence, they would tie his legs together 
and his hands behind his back, and leave him to 
get on as well as he could. 

Jack was not so easily frightened as they 
thought for. He stuck himself against the wall 
of old Quarle's house, and declared he would tell 
them nothing — " no, nor beg your pardon neither, 
see if I do." 

*' Then we'll tie your legs together, and you'll 


have to stop here all night very likely," said 
Gussy, flourishing his little cane in Jack's face as 
he spoke, while Fred kept up a series of shakes 
and bumpings against the wall, which were any- 
thing but agreeable to the young person upon 
whom they were inflicted. 

" No I sha'n't," said Jack, undauntedly, though 
the cane made him blink his eyes all the time he 
was speaking, and his words came out in 
spasmodic gasps, owing to the shaking. " No, I 
sha'n't, for Tom's sure to come and see after me ; 
and I shall tell him all about it, and wont you 
catch something if he catches j^«, that's all P* 

" Oh, come, it's time you were taught how to 
behave yourself, young fellow," said Gussy. 
" Have you got any string about you, Fred Y* 

" Quite enough to settle him with," was the 
reply ; and Fred produced some stout whipcord 
from his pocket, and, while Gussy held Jack tightly 
pinned against the wall, proceeded to secure his 
poor little legs, tying the cord so tightly that, 
brave as Jack was, he could not repress a cry ; 
then they seized hold of his hands and tried to 
tie them together. Jack cuffed and fought as 
hard as he could, but his efforts were unavailing 
against foe§ so much older and stronger than 
himself, and then Jack b^an to use his voice, 
threatening hi5 opponents wltlv ^ll kinds of evil 


unless they desisted in their attacks upon him. 
They only laughed, and proceeded in their eflforts, 
telling him when they had tied his hands they 
would see how he could dance. Poor little 
Jack began to cry — he was such a small boy, 
you know, and there was none to help him, but 
he kept his money tightly held in his hand, tor- 
ment him as they would. Fred saw this, and 
asked him what he had there. 

" Sha'n't tell you," said Jack, sullenly. 

Then Fred drew the cords tighter round 
Jack's wrists, till he shrieked again with the 
pain, when his amiable cousin demanded — 

" Well, will you tell us what you have got there 
now Y* 

" No," cried Jack, though the tears were running 
down his face. " Oh ! don't I wish Tom was 
here, that's all !" 

" Ah ! but he isn't," said Fred, and drew the 
cords tighter still, so that poor little Jack screamed 
louder than ever. 

Then these two nice boys retreated to a little 

distance, and told Jack to show them how he 

could dance, and Gussy began poking him all 

over with his cane. The cords hurt the little 

fellow's hands, and he cried louder than ever. 
He was such a mite, and his two persecutors 
seemed so big and hard and pitiless v^.wdT<i^3a. 


was far away, and there seemed no other help at 
hand. No other help — so Jack thought ; but 
presently aid came when least expected. The 
shutters of the window of Quarle*s house which 
was just above Jack's head, opened, and a long, 
thin arm and claw-like hand protruded, and 
seizing little Jack by the collar pulled him in 
through the window. The shutters were then 
quickly closed, and Jack found himself in dark- 
ness, just made visible by the glimmer of a very 
thin rushlight. 

When his eyes got accustomed to the gloom 
he discerned the figure of old Quarle, with his 
dog by him. Jack felt more frightened than 
he had done even of Fred and Gussy. There 
were such strange stories told of the miser's 
house, and the ghosts and " bogies" that haunted 
it, and there was no knowing what these might 
do to him, while Fred and Gussy could but beat 
and ill-use him. And for what had the old man 
brought him there } To hide him in one of his 
dark cellars } — ^to keep him as a little slave } — or 
to give him as a peace offering to the ghosts to 
keep them from flying away with himself } 

The old man soon set Jack's mind at rest, for 

he brought the light near, and seeing that he was 

bound undid the fastenings very gently, Shock 

meanwhile looking on and -watchiu^ the process 


with great attention, and then asked Jack what 
his cousins had been doing to him. Jack was 
reassured by the tone of the old man's voice, and 
acquainted him with all that had passed, adding, 
" It's time I got the tea-cakes, too, for Mrs.Wilkins 
told me not to be long gone, for it was nearly 
tea time ; and Tom don't like waiting for his tea, 
you know." 

Qliarle opened the window and looked out. 
"They're gone," he said ; " I think you may go 
on now. Or stay ; I wanted to go to the baker's 
myself. — Ah, dear, what a frightful price bread is 
now, my child ! I'll take my hat and stick and 
go with you." 

By the light that came in when the shutters 
were opened. Jack was able to look about and 
see the room they were in. It was very large, 
and had been handsome in its day. The old 
mantelpiece was of carved oak, with curious 
heads staring from it that looked to Jack as if 
they would have liked to eat him alive ; the 
wainscoting was of oak too, ornamented here 
and there with clusters of fruit, or heads like 
those on the mantelpiece, but it was all begrimed 
with dust and dirt, while from the lofty ceiling 
great cobwebs hung like a dreary mockery of 
drapery. There was no furniture in the room, 
but the old man's hat was placed otv 1\\^ lor^ ^^ "^ 


dwarf cupboard which fitted into one of the re- 
cesses. He put it on, and, closing the shutter, 
blew out the light, and then leading little Jack 
by the hand guided him to the door, and then 
the two went away towards the baker's. 

Jack bought his tea-cakes and the miser his 
loaf, and the two returned together, Quarle vo- 
lunteering to see Jack home lest Gussy and Fred 
should set on him again. It was well that he 
did so, for while they were yet some distance 
from Seth Wilkins's those two amiable youths 
sprang out, and began pelting Jack and his 
protector vigorously, taking care, however, to 
keep a very safe distance from the old man's 

Quarle cowered beneath the shower of stones. 
Shock barked, but that did not seem of much 
use, but presently he was roused to stronger 
measures, for Gussy seized the loaf which the 
miser was carrying, and began dancing in the 
middle of the road with it in his hand. This was 
too much for Shock ; he seemed to be quite as 
well aware as his master that bread was a very 
precious thing, for he flew after Gussy and seized 
him by the tail of his coat as if he would have 
torn it off his back. Round and round went 
Gussy, dancing in quite another fashion to what 
be had intended, and afraid every moment lest 


the dog should leave his coat to attack his legs* 
He threw the loaf from him ; it hit Fred, who was 
just coming to his friend's assistance, full in the 
eye, but fell near Quarle, who picked it up and 
began looking carefully over it to remove any 
impurity it might have contracted through 
touching the earth. 

Fred began to rub his eye, for the corner of 
the loaf had hit it rather hard. Jack looked up 
at him with anything but a sympathizing face, 
and said, " You got something then, didn't you, 
Fred ?" 

This was enough for Fred. The blow from 
the loaf had irritated him, but Jack's remark and 
the smiling face with which he said it, irritated 
him still more. He struck the child with his 
open hand, and would have repeated the blow, 
but found himself seized by a hand a little 
stronger than Jack's, while another equally 
powerful began pommelling him unmercifully. 

" Gus ! Gus !" he cried, "come here for a minute, 
can't you !" 

" I will if you'll call off this dog," cried Gus^ 
who began to fear lest his best great-coat should 
be torn into ribands. 

Fred's assailant was Tom Dunstone. Dick 
and he having done work, had been told they 
might run out and meet Jack, who seemed a 


long time coming ; Mrs. Wilkins, indeed, was 
beginning to fear lest he should have lost his 
way, though, as Tom told her, " Jack knew better 
than that." It was well, however, that they had 
come, for old Quarle, despite his stick and his 
superior size, could have done little to defend the 

It was really a pleasure to see the way in 
which Tom thrashed Fred, he did it so thoroughly; 
and I am sure, my boys, you'll agree with me, 
that whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. 
Tom thought so, I can assure you, whenever 
fighting was in the case ; not that he was parti- 
cularly fond of it, looking upon it, indeed, as 
rather an unpleasant thing, and one to be avoided 
if possible ; but still unpleasant things have to 
be done sometimes, and we have no right to 
avoid them just because they are unpleasant, or 
however much they may be against our natural 
inclinations. We must act like Tom, and if any- 
thing has to be done, do it to the best of our 
power, however much we may dislike the duty. 
And no one, to have seen Tom that day, would 
have suspected that fighting " was not," to use 
his own expression, " much in his line." 

Fred roared and cried for mercy, and then 

tried to hit back again, but what could he do 

against Tom ? — against Tom, vjVvo struck not for 


himself, but for the little fatherless and motherless 
brother whom Fred had so ill-treated. Then he 
winced and cowered, and promised never to 
strike Jack again, but Tom hit on ; he knew 
what the promises of one like Fred are worth, 
and that nothing but fear would induce him to 
keep them. At last, when he was fairly tired 
himself, he desisted, and flung Fred from him, 
saying — 

" There, Jack, I don't think he'll hit you again 
for one while ; and if ever you do," he added, 
addressing Fred, " mind Til serve you twice as 
bad as IVe done to-day." 

" I should say you're tired, Tom," said Dick, 
who had been looking on the whole proceedings 
with great complacency. 

** I don't know about that," replied Tom ; 
" but I do feel rather stiff in the arm, too." 

" I should think you did," replied Dick, " for 
you've been working away hard enough with it. 
I say. Master Brown, whatever will your mamma 
say to your coat ?" 

Gussy was now free from the dog, but he was 
surveying his coat very ruefully ; Shock's teeth 
had rent the tail in tatters, and it was not till he 
had no longer anything to hold by that the dog 
had released his victim. Then he let him go, 
giving a snap at his legs by way o^ ivc\3\^^^VvSc^ 


inflicted a tear in the trousers as well as one in 
the flesh. Altogether, neither Gussy nor Fred 
had come off" quite so well as they could have 
wished in this encounter, and looking rather 
crest-fallen they slunk off*, leaving Tom and 
Shock decidedly the masters of the field. 



|ACK'S stay at Mr. Wilkins's was rather a 
long one this time, though he had already 
so recently been a visitor at the carpenter's. Mrs. 
WilkinSjWhen she sent for him, had told Tom that 
he was to tell Mr. Ambrose, Jack would remain 
till Dick or he was driving that way, unless Mr. 
Ambrose happened to be coming to Bridgetown, 
when he might take him home with him. But 
more than a week elapsed, and Mr. Wilkins had 
no business to take his apprentices over to Bore- 
ham ; and, as Mrs. Wilkins said, it was not worth 
while to have the horse out just to take little 
Jack home, while Ambrose Dunstone, when they 
fetched the child, had said that he did not ex- 
pect to be in Bridgetown for a fortnight ; perhaps 
not then. Mrs. Wilkins was in no hurry to part 
with Jack ; she had no living childt^tvo^\\tx q^\v^ 


having lost the only one she had ever had when 
it was an infant, and so seemed to think it in- 
cumbent on her to give other children the love 
she might have lavished on her own if she had 
had them. " The master " liked Jack too. He 
was a quiet, handy little fellow, never meddled 
with the tools in the workshop, and was always 
ready to run errands or make himself useful in a 
small way. And Jack, you may be sure, was 
glad enough to stop — glad enough to be any- 
where with Tom. Mrs. Wilkins said she should 
be afraid to send him out by himself after his 
cousins' ill-treatment of him, but Jack said he 
was not afraid, Tom had taught " those fellows *' 
they'd better not meddle with him. 

So it seemed at first, for once or twice Jack 
encountered Fred or Gussy, and they let him 
pass in silence, Gussy making a queer grimace 
or two, while Fred walked sulkily on, looking as 
if he had by no means forgotten the beating 
Tom had inflicted on him. " All the better for 
me if he hasn't," thought Jack. 

Old Quarle had walked all the way to Seth 
Wilkins's the evening that he had encountered 
Gussy and Fred, and Mrs. Wilkins, who was 
standing at her garden door and on the look-out 
for them, seeing that he looked pale and ill, and 
hearing something of what had happened from 


Jack, who ran on first, asked the old man to come 
in and have a dish of tea. He stammered out 
a refusal. " Company ain*t in his line," whispered 
Dick to Tom, but Mrs. Wilkins would take no 
denial, and the old man found himself forced in 
a manner into the bright, warm, cheery kitchen, 
and before he was aware of it a cup of tea 
placed in his hands, while little Jack, kneeling 
before the fire, toasted the cakes, and told Mrs. 
Wilkins how Tom had served Fred out. But 
Quarle would take nothing to eat, and left before 
the others had half finished their tea, slinking 
away with his dog behind him as if he felt him- 
self out of keeping in such a happy, cosy-look- 
ing place. 

" That old man's not right," said Mrs. Wilkins 
to her husband, when Quarle had left them. 
** He looks fitter to keep his bed than to go about, 
this cold weather." 

Three or four days passed on and they saw no 
more of Quarle. A week elapsed, and then 
there spread a rumour through the town that the 
miser was dead — must be dead, for he had not 
been seen for some days in the market-place, and 
he always laid in his provisions in such small 
quantities that it was necessary for him to go 
almost daily for them. Besides, the market- 
women missed him in another v^ay \ vl C^m^.^^ 


did not buy he was always peering about the 
stalls, asking prices, and rating them for being 
extortionate. The market was such a favourite 
haunt of his, something must be wrong, or he 
could never have stayed away from it for a 

Mrs. Wilkins came home from her marketing 
quite full of this one day, and she could talk of 
nothing else all dinner-time. It was such a 
dreadful thing, she said, to think of the poor old 
man lying like that in a great desolate house 
with neither wife nor child to see to him. Some 
one ought to break into his place and look after 
him. To think of a poor creature dying in such 
a way ! 

" I suppose if there's nothing seen of him in 
a day or two, the mayor will send the constable 
to the place," observed Seth Wilkins. 

A day or two !" cried Mrs. Wilkins, angrily; 
why the poor fellow may be dead in that time, 
if he isn't already. It's really quite shameful 
that nobody goes to see after him." 

" Well, Rebecca, but it's nobody's business," 
replied Mr. Wilkins. 

" Then it ought to be everybody's," retorted 
his wife. " I wonder at you, Seth, I do, to sit 
there swallowing your dumplings and talking in 
that cold-blooded way of the poor old man." 



** But, my dear, I'm really no worse than my 
neighbours," remonstrated Mr. Wilkins. 

" Then why don't you try to be better, Seth ?" 
said Mrs. Wilkins. "As if it was enough for 
any of us to be no worse. If I were you, I'd 
take the boys and a ladder after dinner and try 
if I couldn't get in and sec how the poor old 
man is going on." 

"Why, Rebecca," said Mr. Wilkins, laying 
down his knife and fork in sheer amazement at 
his wife's audacity, " that's housebreaking." 

" Then please let me be in it, Mr. Wilkins," 
cried little Jack, laying down his knife and fork 
also, and clapping his hands with delight. 

"We could easily get in, sir, at one of the 
upper windows, by fixing a tall ladder against 
it," said Tom, who was anxious, if he could, 
to repay Quarle in some manner for his kind- 
nesses to him in his illness. 

" And if the windows are fastened a screwr 
driverwill soon undo them," observed Dick ; " and 
every one of the panes is broken all ready for 

Mr. Wilkins looked around in hopeless 
bewilderment. Here was his wife, the quietest, 
best conducted woman in Bridgetown, suggesting 
that he should take a ladder in broad daylight 
for the purpose of breaking into a house, and his 

M 2 


two apprentices — good, steady lads as need be, 
generally speaking — evincing the utmost anxiety 
to be allowed to have a share in the transaction. 
And the worst of it was that he knew very well 
that whenever his wife had made up her mind a 
thing ought to be done, she never rested till it 
was done. He should h^ve to leave his workshop, 
just too at a time when business was so bad that 
there really was not an hour to spare from it, 
for work as hard as you would there was no 
making both ends come together ; and to take 
his two apprentices with him to carry the ladder, 
and have little Jack trotting by his side, and go 
to old Quarle's house for the purpose of forcing 
an entrance ! — a house that no one but the owner 
had entered for the last twenty years, till little 
Jack was lifted in through the window the other 
day. He wiped his forehead nervously, and 
looked at his wife as if to see if there was no 
hope of her changing her mind, but she seemed 
to consider the affair settled ; for giving Tom 
and Dick another dumpling a-piece, she ob- 
served — 

" Be quick and finish your dinners, that's good 
boys, and then run off with the master at once. 
Jack, I think you'd better not go. A child 
like you has no business to be climbing up 


There was no help for it, Mr. Wilkins felt. Go 
he must, and he was just about to get out his 
longest ladder, which being seldom required in 
his business was put away behind a number of 
boards, when Dick exclaimed — 

** Here's the parson, master, a-coming up to 
the house." 

The parson ! Wilkins for once in his life 
looked pleased. No doubt the parson was coming 
after something in Seth*s line of business, but at 
the same time he might as well be told of some- 
thing that was certainly much more in his way 
than Sethis, who thought the duty of looking 
after old Quarle was far more incumbent on the 
authorities of Church and State, as represented 
by the parson and the mayor, than on himself. 
So he hastened to the workshop in order not to 
keep his visitor waiting, for the parson was a 
justice of the peace, and the living of Bridgetown 
was a very good one, and altogether the portly 
gentleman who held it was a much more im- 
portant personage than the little quiet old 
minister of the chapel. 

" Good day — good day, Mr. Wilkins," said 
the Rev. Laurence Trevor, as Seth Wilkins 
entered. " And how's business doing } Fuller 
of work than ever, eh ?" 

Seth groaned and looked misery itself, as Mr, 


Trevor knew he would when he asked the 

^'It scarcely pays, sir — it scarcely pays for 
keeping the shop open. Indeed, I think I'm 
getting out of pocket by it every day. I really 
feel sometimes as if I should do better to shut 
up altogether." 

"Glad to hear you're doing so well in the 
world," said Mr. Trevor in his cheeriest tone 
" So youVe made your fortune at last, eh } So 
you ought — so you ought, at the prices things 
have been, and the custom youVe had. Well, 
I'd brought you • a small order, but I suppose as 
you've done so well you'll scarcely think it 
worth your while to have it," 

" No, sir, no," said Seth, '* I've not made my 
fortune, far from it ; and as to the order, I shall 
be very happy to do it as low as any one, though 
wood's so dear, and prices now-a-days so cutting, 
that one scarcely gets a living profit out of 
anything — indeed, I've long given up expecting 
it," added Seth, wiping his forehead nervously^ 
and looking at Mr. Trevor in expectancy of the 

It was not a very little one, though the Rector 
had called it so ; but it would take Seth from 
home that afternoon, as Mr. Trevor wished him 
to go at once to some fields of his lying a couple 


of miles from the town, and give him an esti- 
mate of the expense of renewing or thoroughly 
repairing the fences. He also required some 
sheep hurdles made, and a dozen rakes and 
forks against the haymaking time should come 
on. Seth looked intensely miserable when Mr. 
Trevor had concluded, and said in his most dis- 
mal tone — 

" rU have the horse put to, sir, and go at once 
to the Long Slope meadows, and you may rely 
upon it the fences shall be done at the lowest pos- 
sible figure, and with the best of timber, though 
it's a job I shall get next to nothing out of ; for 
I do think, sir, if there's one thing in my trade 
pays worse than another — and they all pay bad 
enough — it's fencing. I don't think, sir — no, I 
don't think — that out of fencing one gets, so to 
say, enough to. pay for the wear and tear of the 
tools used in it." 

Then Seth wiped his forehead with the air of a 
man who had made up his mind to a loss, and the 
Rector, who quite understood his way, was about 
to take his leave, when Seth stopped him with — 

" I beg your pardon, sir, there's a little matter 
I should like to speak to you about. It's con- 
cerning Jacob Quarle — Quarle the miser, the 
boys call him — boys will call names, sir, and say 
things they shouldn't," added Seth, apologizing 


mournfully, as if he felt the sins of boys in 
general rested on his shoulders, and the burthen 
was too much for him. " He's not been seen in 
the town for nigh a week, and when he was last 
here Mrs. Wilkins was observing how ill he 
looked ; and now she's possessed with an idea 
that as nobody else seems to be a-lookin* after 
the old man, it's my place to do it, an' has been 
a proposin', sir — actually proposin' — that I an' 
my boys should take a ladder an' try an' get in 
at one of the windows. Now, sir, Mrs. Wilkins 
is a reasonable woman in most things, but I put 
it to you whether ihafs ]\xst the right sort of thing 
for me to do ?" 

" The master says it's housebreaking," burst 
in Jack, who had followed Mr. Wilkins into the 
shop, " and I asked him to take me with him, 
but Mrs. Wilkins says I'm too small to go up a 
ladder, but of course being little I could get in 
at a window that neither Tom nor Dick could 
squeeze through." 

" Mrs. Wilkins is quite right," replied Mr. Trevor ; 
" housebreaking isn't at all a thing for little boys 
to be concerned in. But it's very kind of your 
wife nevertheless," he added, turning to Seth, 
" to be so concerned for the poor old man ; and 
the least you can do, as she is so anxious about 
him, is to set her mind at rest." 


" But, sir," said Seth, nervously, " I thought 
that perhaps you " 

" Me ! oh, dear me, no, Mr. Wilkins ; going 
up ladders is not at all in my line," replied Mr. 
Trevor. " Besides, I have not heard of the old 
gentleman's disappearance, so that I don't my- 
self feel any particular anxiety about him. But 
it seems Mrs. Wilkins does — ^very good of her, 
I*m sure ; so by all means take the ladder and 
pay Mr. Quarle a neighbourly visit through one 
of his windows — that is, if you can't get in at the 
door. Good day — good day ; you'll let me 
know the cost of those fenctjs some time to- 
morrow. Good-bye, my little man," he added, 
addressing Jack, ** and be sure you mind what 
Mrs. Wilkins tells you, and don't begin house- 
breaking yet awhile on any account." 

Then away the Rector went, chuckling to him- 
self as he pictured Seth Wilkins mournfully 
climbing up the ladder and entering old Quarle's 
house by force. 

" I wonder what the old man will say to him 
when he gets in," he thought ; " give him any- 
thing but a welcome, I'll answer for it." 

Mr. Trevor himself had not the slightest idea 
that anything was really wrong with Quarle ; if 
he had he would have directed the constable to 
obtain entrance through the front door, and he 


went away much more amused at the thoi^ 
of Seth climbing up a long ladder to get ia 
through a window than the carpenter was lum- 
self. He sat down on a bench with the air of a 
thoroughly ill-used victim, saying, '' I did think 
the parson 'ud have helped me." When Mi& 
Wilkins, followed by Dick and Tom, came in, 
Seth put the question to his wife, " Whether, as 
Mr. Trevor had just given him a larg^e order, 
which would require him to leave home that day 
to commence proceedings, she expected him to 
throw it up and leave his business and shop to 
take care of itself for the purpose of seeing after 
Jacob Quarle ? If she did, why of course there 
was no more to be said about it ; things were 
bad enough as they were — if she didn't mind 
their being much worse why let them be — that 
was all." 

But Mrs. Wilkins, though a placid, gentle 
woman, had a great deal of quiet energy in her, 
so she very soon settled the matter. The master 
could go by himself to see after the fences, Dick 
and Tom would take the ladder, get over the 
back wall of Quarters garden, and then see if 
they could obtain entrance into the house. The 
parson himself seemed to approve of the plan, 
and it would be much better for the boys to go 
at once than to wait till the sleepy old constables 


came — especially as Mr. Trevor, though a justice 
of the peace, had not thought it necessary to 
employ them. As to the workshop, she would 
bring her sewing in and mind it herself with 
little Jack for company, and there was nothing 
so very particular in hand just then that the 
two boys could not spare an hour from the 

Of course Dick and Tom were pleased to go. 
It was really something to have the chance of 
peeping in at the old man's house ; for Jack's 
description of the dreary room into which the 
• miser had brought him only made them curious 
to know if all the apartments of the house were 
equally desolate. Besides, Tom did not like the 
thought of leaving the old man, who had done 
his best to help him in his illness, to die uncared 
for and unhelped, and so it was willingly enough 
that he helped Dick pull out the long ladder and 
put a few tools together in case they needed 
them to open the window with. 

The master charged them to be careful how 
they went up the ladder, and then began to feel 
afraid that one, and i/zat one only a boy, at the 
bottom, would not be enough to steady it while 
his companion ascended. Then Dick asked 
should they have Harry Swain with them.^ 
Harry he knew could come; he had nothing 


particular to do that day, and he would be of 
great use not only to keep the ladder steady, but 
to help carry it to Quarle's, and then to lift it 
over the wall. So it was settled that if Harry 
Swain could go with them he should, and Jack 
was despatched in quest of him, and soon re- 
turned with Harry following. Then the three 
went off together with the ladder, and little 
Jack stayed behind to help Mrs. Wilkins mind 
the shop. 

It was easy work to get the ladder over the 
wall of Quarle's garden, for it was not particularly 
high, and, when they were all three in there, they 
next proceeded to place it against the back of 
the house. They had quite dispensed with the 
ceremony of going to the front door and knock- 
ing, knowing very well that Quarle, even if he 
had been able to open the door, would have let 
them knock for hours before he would have 
troubled himself to do so. But they looked 
curiously round the garden to see what traces it 
bore of the miser's presence. It had evidently not 
been cultivated for years. Docks and grass grew 
thick on the flower-beds, and the neglected un- 
pruned fruit-trees threw their huge branches over 
what had once been well-kept gravel-paths, but 
which were now almost as green as the grass plots 
themselves. It was the very picture of desola- 


tion, and the broken windows of the house — for 
the boys had taken a special delight in evincing 
their skill in throwing by aiming at them — added 
to the dreary, wretched aspect of the place. 

" Makes one shiver all over to look at it," said 
Dick. " Now, I say, which of us is to go up ? 
I don't like this job half so well as I thought I 
should. They do say such queer things about 
the house. And if the old man himself should 
be dead, why — why — he might take to walking 
about it himself. And of all ghosts to meet, 
fancy old Quarle's !" 

"Just what I was thinking," observed Harry. 
" I — I — don't like going back, but I think par- 
son ought to have tackled this job himself. It's 
a regular queer one, and I don't fancy it at all." 

" He's been uncommonly partial to you, Tom,'* 
said Dick ; " and I suppose ghosts — if he is a 
ghost by this time — don't forget their likings. 
Perhaps ^^« wouldn't mind going up first." 

** No," said Tom, " I don't believe much in 
ghosts — and don't mean to till I see one ; but I 
think with missis, if we don't look sharp, the old 
man may be a ghost before long, so I'll go up 
and try if I can get in at the window." 

He had his foot on the first rung of the ladder, 
when a noise reached the ears of himself and 
his companions which startled even Tom, and 


made both Dick and Harry inclined to run away. 
Indeed, I think they would have done so had it 
not been for Tom, who simply paused to listen 
without appearing at all alarmed at the sound 

It was the low, melancholy howl of a dog — of 
poor Shock himself, and was so low and so 
dismal that it sounded as if the poor brute was 
at the last extremity, and was bewailing his own 
fate along with his master's. 

" Dogs never howl like that but for a death," 
said Dick. " Oh, I say, Tom, let's back out of 
this. I — I — ^wouldn't go up there if I was 

" I shall, though," said Tom. " Quarle's not 
been so bad to me. Still, I don't know but what 
I'd rather save the dog of the two. And if the 
old man is gone, what can become of the poor 
creature left by itself ?" 

He went up the ladder as he spoke, and on 
arriving at the window on the first floor, by which 
they had placed it, found very little difficulty in 
opening it, having merely to pass his hand 
through one of the openings where glass should 
have been, and undo the fastening of the sash. 
Then he stepped in and looked about him. He 
was on a wide landing, on to which the doors of 
several rooms opened, while a broad, handsome 
staircase; with massive oaken balusters led to an 


tipper story, and down to the ground floor. 
Where should he go first to look for old Quarle ? 
He listened, and heard the dog's howling pro- 
ceeding from one of the rooms below, and they 
were all in darkness. Tom's heart quailed within 
him. Wfuit might be waiting there besides the 
dog? If Dick or Harry would only come he 
should not mind so much, but to go alone, 
gropingf his way in the dark, and perhaps stumble 
on the dead body of the old man. He shrank 
from the task, and then, going to the window, 
said, " I'm all right ; wont one of you come up ?" 

" Not — not — unless you want us very much," 
said Dick, feeling quite ashamed of himself all 
the time he spoke. 

" Wont you, Harry r said Tom. 

" I — I— Dick'll be afraid of stopping down 
here by himself if I do," said Harry, " and — and 
— I say, Tom, hadn't you better come down 
too .?" 

" No," said Tom, " not till I've seen how things 
are. I must do as well as I can," he thought. 
'* If I have to go about by myself — perhaps the 
dog will come if I call him." 

He shouted, "Shock — Shock — Shock," and 
presently, to his great relief, poor Shock came, 
looking thinner than ever, and very forlorn and 
miserable, but trying hard to wag his tail and put 


the best face on matters as he approached Tom, 
and feebly licked his hands. 

" Hes no ghost, at any rate," thought Tom, as 
he patted the poor creature and fed him with a 
piece of meat which he had brought with him for 
the purpose. The dog devoured it ravenously, 
and when he had swallowed it, looked up to Tom 
as if asking for more. 

" Haven't got it, old fellow," said Tom, shaking 
his head ; " but now, where's your master. Shock ? 
— ^where*s your master ? Take me to him, there's 
a good dog." 

Shock appeared to understand what was re- 
quired of him ; for he ran towards the top of the 
lower flight of stairs, and looked back as if to see 
if Tom was following him. Being satisfied on 
this point he went down, and Tom, still keeping 
near, found himself in what he fancied must be 
the entrance-hall. Enough light came from the 
upper windows to show him the direction the 
dog was taking, and presently Shock ran into a 
room opening out of the hall, and here Tom 
followed him. 

The window-shutters were closed, but enough 
light came through two small circular openings in 
them to guide Tom to them, and he cautiously 
stepped in their direction. He went very care- 
fully ; but in the gloom trod on something that 


appeared like a pallet placed on the ground, and 
on what felt like the limbs of some person 
stretched on it. Was it a living man or a dead 
one who lay there ? Tom scarcely dared to ask 
himself the question, but felt for the fastenings of 
the shutters, and then tried hard to undo them.r 
They were rusty with disuse, and he had some 
difficulty ; besides, his fingers trembled while 
they did the work — but not with cold. Should 
he never open them ? Oh 1 how hard and stiff 
they were ! The dog whined at his feet, and 
once set up again that long, low, miserable howl 
which now curdled Tom's blood, as he thought 
of that pallet and its occupant stretched close by 
him. But at last they were undone, and Tom 
threw them wide open, and the light — the blessed 
light of heaven— came pouring in upon the 
wretched room, from whence it had been shut out 
for years. Then Tom threw open the window, and 
drank in the fresh air greedily, while Dick and 
Harry ran up to him with, " So youVe found 
your way down, old fellow !'* 

" Come in, do," said Tom. " He's here." 
They were less afraid of venturing now. The 
open window, and the fact that Tom had been 
able to find his way about the house without let 
or hindrance from any of its ghostly occupants, 
gave them courage. But the window was some 



distance from the ground, and Tom had to help 
them through it, and when in, they looked fear- 
fully round, as if anxious, though half afraid, to 
become acquainted with the secrets of the miser's 
habitation, till Tom directed their attention to 
the pallet and its occupant. 

It was old Quarle who lay there, but thinner 
and paler than they had ever seen him — ^wasted 
indeed almost to a skeleton — and with a face of 
ghastly whiteness. He was perfectly still, and, if 
alive, quite unconscious of their presence, with 
his eyes closed, his mouth half-open, and the 
wretched, worn coverings pulled up close to his 
chin, as if the last exertion he had made had 
been to obtain what slender warmth he could 
from them. The dog saw them looking at his 
master, and getting on the bed lay down close 
by him, licking the cold pale face fondly, and 
fixing his eyes on them as if to ask their help for 
the wretched creature who for so many years had 
none but the poor dumb brute to care for him. 
What little life there yet was flickering in Quarle 
seemed roused by the dog's caress, for he gave a 
low, faint sigh, and his eyelids slightly moved. 

*^ He^s no ghost," said Dick, confidently ; "and 
so now, Tom, what's to be done for him ?" 

" Run for the mistress, as she said you were 
to," replied Tom, ^ and stop and mind the shop 


while she comes here. Tell her how he is, and 
she'll know what to bring — ^brandy or broth, or 
whatever she thinks best. Til stop here and get 
a fire ; I see there's a tinder-box over here, and 
plenty of wood about ; and do you, Harry, go 
for a doctor. Perhaps you'd better bring which- 
ever you meet with first." 

"Not I," said Harry. "Your uncle will be for 
dosing the little life Quarle's got out of him 
before the morning, while he may have a chance 
if Wheatley sees to him. Til go after him where- 
ever he is, and Mrs. Wilkins will know what to do 
with the old fellow meanwhile. Come along, 
Dick ; there's no time to lose. Let's get out at 
the front door, and cut away as fast as we 

Tom had struck a light while they had been 
speaking, and having found a rushlight went with 
Dick and Harry to light them out. They had 
some trouble in unfastening the front door. It 
would have been almost better to have gone the 
way they came, as far as saving time was con- 
cerned ; but, as Tom said, it would not do for 
the mistress to be climbing over garden-walls, 
and getting in at windows, and now he should 
easily be able to open the door to her. Dick 
started off as soon as there were the means of 
egress before him ; but Harry paused a moment, 


and turning to Tom, said, " You're not afraid of 
stopping here with him, are you, old fellow ?" 

" No — ^poor old soul — ^he can't do me any harm, 
and I may do him some good," said Tom ; "so 
run off, Harry, and bring Mr. Wheatley here as 
quick as you can." 

Away Harry went, feeling he would much 
rather have his own share of the business than 
Tom's, and the latter closed the door and retraced 
his way through the long dusty passages to the 
room where Quarle was lying. Neither the dog 
nor he had moved since he left them, and he bent 
anxiously over the old man to see if he still 
breathed, half afraid that the feeble lamp of life 
within might have been extinguished in his ab- 
sence. No, it was still flickering there, though 
very faintly ; and then, thinking that the old man 
must be very cold, Tom took off his own upper 
coat and laid it over him. Then he set to work to 
light a fire in the grate, which was half full of 
ashes and bits of wood. The last fire had evi- 
dently gone out for want of some one to feed it ; 
for there was a good store of wood at the side, 
and more in a cupboard near. Tom remembered 
how often he had seen the miser out after a high 
wind, picking up the boughs that had been blown 
from the trees at the outskirts of the town. He 
soon had a cheering blaze, and then not knowing 


what else to do while waiting, Tom sat down by 
the side of the fire, and began to look more care- 
fully than he had done around the room. 

It was exceedingly dirty ; that was the first 
impression upon Tom's mind ; and it looked in its 
wretched, sordid comfortlessness just fit for the 
habitation of a miser ; that was the second. There 
was one 'small round table, which should have 
had three legs, but the place of the third was 
supplied by a piece of deal, evidently of Quarle*s 
own fixing, no carpenter would ever have made 
such a bad job of it ; Tom was convinced of that. 
There was one low stool, now occupied by Tom, 
a small saucepan, a plate, a chipped mug, and a 
knife in the cupboard. These, with the pallet on 
which Quarle lay and the shade for the rushlight, 
constituted the furniture of the place. But in 
one corner was a heap of old iron, rusty horse- 
shoes, nails, worn-out saucepans, spoutless kettles ; 
and in another a pile of bones, which partly ac- 
counted for the close, foul smell which had beset 
Tom on first entering the room. Tom knew now 
why it was the old man was never seen without 
his wallet, and why it was he so often walked in 
the middle of the road with his eyes fixed on the 
ground, or prowled about at the backs of the 
houses, or poked in the gutter with his knife. 
He thought he should like to clear the bones 


away before his mistress came, but if the old 
man returned to consciousness he might be angry 
at having his treasures removed, so perhaps it 
would be as well not to touch them for the pre- 
sent. And then it occurred to Tom how strange 
it was that he should always, in some manner or 
other, find himself Quark's protector — ^he whose 
heart when he first came to Bridgetown had been 
so full of bitterness against him, that he had felt 
never in this world could he bring himself to 
forgive his harshness to his dear father. He was 
not sure now that he had forgiven him ; on the 
whole he was inclined to think that he had not ; 
but still it was very difficult to feel much anger 
against the poor helpless creature lying there, on 
the very borders, as it seemed, of death — a death 
for which no living creature but a dog would be 
the worse. " He hasn't done much for himself 
with all his money," thought Tom ; " I think my 
father was the best off, after all. Poor old sinner !" 

And then Tom felt so full of pity for the old 
man, stretched there in his helpless misery before 
him, that he began to wonder whether the time 
would not yet come that he might bring himself 
to forgive him, satisfied that all his greed and 
hardness had only punished him far more than 
any with whom he had dealt however harshly. 

Yes, Tom thought, the time would come. '* Only 


J should like to pay, all the same, every penny 
my father owed him." 

Mrs. Wilkins lost no time in coming to Jacob 
Quarle. She brought with her, as Tom had 
thought she would, a little brandy and some 
good broth, besides a slice of meat for Shock. 
Dick had especially begged her not to forget 
him, as he was quite of Tom's opinion, that of 
the two he was much better worth saving than 
his master. She gave the old man a spoonful of 
the brandy while Tom warmed the broth, and 
then she fed him slowly with that. After a while 
Quarle's face lost a little of its ghastliness, and 
he opened his eyes and looked at her, but closed 
them again almost instantly as if the effort was 
too much for him ; but he was better, decidedly 
better, Mrs. Wilkins was sure of that, and so was 
Tom. And then, having fed Shock, and not 
seeing what more she could do for his master till 
the doctor came, Mrs. Wilkins began, as Tom 
had done, to look about her. 

" If it isn't breathing dirt !" she whispered, " to 
be here. Why he might as well have lived in a 
dusthole at once as turn his home into one. We 
must get those bones away, Tom ; they're enough 
to breed a fever. Carry them gently, a few at a 
time, into one of the other rooms, where the smell 
won't reach us. I'll tell him where they are if 


he's well enough to ask, and see if he won't let me 
sell them. It's not to be thought of, of course, 
while he's in bed, but shouldn't I like a good 
scrub at this room ?" 

Tom began to remove the bones as softly as 
he could, but for all his care the old man heard 
him, and opened his eyes, and seemed trying to 
look in the direction of the noise. Mrs. Wilkins 
went up to him, " It's only our Tom, Mr. Quarle, 
Tom Dunstone, you know, tidying up the place 
a bit. He's a good boy, and honest as the day. 
Everything's quite safe with him." 

The querulous look that had come into the old 
man's face changed for a more satisfied expres- 
sion, and Mrs. Wilkins then told Tom that while 
he was about it, he might as well remove the old 
iron too ; " and to-morrow if all goes well, I'll 
have a sweep at the room if I can't have a scour. 
Dear ! dear ! — what a place, to be sure, for a 
Christian to live in !" 

Tom had his own doubts as to whether a 
Christian had lived in it, seeing that very few 
people would have included Quarle under that 
designation ; but as this was not a time to dis- 
cuss the subject, he went on with his work, and, 
before he had half finished, Harry returned with 
Mr. Wheatley. 

The doctor quite approved of all that Mrs. 


Wilkins had done, and told her she had better go 
on with the broth and administer the brandy as 
well at regular intervals. There appeared nothing 
the matter with the old man but sheer debility, 
brought on, most probably, by the long continued 
cold weather and want of sufficient nourishment 
to support him under it. He promised to send 
round some strengthening medicine, but then 
came the question who was to take charge of the 
old man ? He was not fit to be left, as he would 
require constant nourishment, and Bridgetown 
did not abound in good nurses ; besides, it would 
need a very trustworthy person for the charge, as 
one who was otherwise might leave her patient 
and go searching the house for the bags full of 
guineas that were reported to be hidden up the 
chimneys and under the boards. Mrs. Wilkins vo- 
lunteered to remain there for the night, and per- 
haps by the next day some arrangement could be 
made. The doctor promised to look ia again, 
and as soon as he had gone Mrs. Wilkins de- 
spatched Tom to her house for an easy-chair for 
her to sit up in, a pillow for the old man's head 
(he had a bag of shavings for one now), a warm 
counterpane for him, a red cover for the table, a 
tea-pot, tea and several other articles. Mrs. 
Wilkins was a first-rate nurse, and, like all good 
nurses, liked the sick chamber to be as pleasant 


and cheery-looking as possible, and it was asto- 
nishing, in a little time, what a different appear- 
ance she gave to the desolate, sordid room. 

Mr. Wilkins came round to see his wife, and 
to remonstrate with her upon the trouble and 
fatigue she would incur by nursing old Quarle ; 
but no considerations of that nature would deter 
Mrs. Wilkins from doing what she thought right. 
She told her husband Dick was so handy that he 
would be able to get the tea at home as well as 
she could do it herself, and that if Tom would 
come round early in the morning and take her 
place, she would go home and see to things mean- 
while. " Perhaps by that time some one might 
be found who could take charge of the old man ; 
though who there is I'm sure I can't tell, for go 
where she will Mrs. Higgins always takes her 
gin-bottle with her ; and as to Mrs. Jenkins, she'd 
search the place high and low to see what she 
could find, and if she thought there was anything 
hidden in the old man's mattress, take it from 
under him to see. However, we won't trouble 
about that to-night, Seth ; time enough for to- 
morrow when to-morrow comes, but I shall do 
very well here to-night, if you'll just send Tom 
round, when you go home, with my knitting. I 
never feel dull when I've got my needles with 


Mr. Wilkins knew that his wife would have her 
own way in the matter, so he went home and 
sent Tom round with the knitting, and when the 
doctor came, about nine o'clock, he found her 
comfortably ensconced in her own easy-chair by 
the fire, working away at a stocking for Dick, 
and looking quite as much at home as she ever 
did in her own bright cheery kitchen. He said 
Quarle was decidedly better, and Mrs. Wilkins, 
if so disposed, might safely indulge in a short 
nap or two in the course of the night ; but her 
patient must on no account be more than a 
couple of hours without nourishment of some 
kind. Then he took his leave, telling Mrs. 
Wilkins, as he shook hands with her, that he 
wished he had such nurses as she was for all his 
patients, h^ shquld cure them in half the time he 
did ; and went away with Tom. 

" What a difference your mistress has made in 
that place already !" Mr. Wheatley observed, 
when they were outside. 

" Hasn't she !" cried Tom, his honest face 
brightening up, as it always did when he spoke 
of his dear mistress. " Somehow she's made the 
place look almost like home already." 

" I think it is home wherever there is such a 
good woman as Mrs. Wilkins," said the doctor, 
"and you're a lucky boy, I can tell you, 


young fellow, to have her to make a home for 

The next morning, by six o'clock, Tom was at 
Quarters house, and found the old man partaking 
of a cup of tea, in company with Mrs. WiUcins, 
who told Tom he might stay and mind him 
while she went home to " set things to rights a 
little." Mr. Wilkins was anxious that a nurse 
should be engaged for the old man, but there was 
likely to be such a difficulty in meeting with a 
suitable person, that, as his wife said, it would 
really be less trouble to see to him themselves, 
and one way or other, the boys were so good and 
so handy, she was sure they could manage it 
between them. Mr. Wilkins was not quite dis- 
posed to take this view of the matter ; he did 
not like his wife to be over-exerting herself, and 
he did not like to spare the boys from the busi- 
ness, and then who was to sit up with the old 
man at nights } Mrs. Wilkins could not do it 
always, and he was sure the boys would be afraid 
to do so. But Mrs. Wilkins said that there would 
be very little sitting up required — ^the old man 
gave so little trouble, and was so much better, 
that in three or four days he would not require 
any one to be constantly with him ; but used, as 
he had so long been, to a lonely life, could very 
well do with occasional attendance ; and surely 


it was not worth while to risk his being robbed 
and neglected for the sake of the little trouble he 
would give them for a few days. So Mr. Wilkins 
gave way, like a sensible man, to his wife, and 
there was no further talk of looking out for a 
nurse. Dick took Tom's breakfast to him, and 
about ten o'clock, by which time Mrs. Wilkins 
had set matters in order in her own house, and 
made a meat-pie for dinner, which she charged 
Dick to see to the baking of, she set off to resume 
her post at Mr. Quarle's, and send Tom back to 
the workshop. 

She remained at the miser's for the rest of the 
day, and, sorely against Mr. Wilkins's wish, said 
she should pass the night there — sitting up never 
hurt her ; besides, it was not sitting up, with a 
quiet old creature like Mr. Quarle, who was as 
easy to manage as a baby, and just opened his 
mouth for whatever you chose to give him, and 
then fell off to sleep again like a lamb. So she 
had her own way ; but Dick and Tom resolved 
that the next night she should give up her post 
to them. 

Quarle continued to improve rapidly. The 
following morning when Tom came to relieve his 
mistress, he found the old man eating some toast 
as well as drinking tea, and chatting in a very 
friendly manner with Mrs. Wilkins. Tom took 


her place, and Quarle for a time became silent ; 
but presently observed, ** You're queer folks, you 
and your mistress too." 

" Are we ?" said Tom. " I'm sure mistress is 
a good one." 

" Yes, that's where her queerness is," replied 
Quarle. " I think good people are the strangest 
things in the world. I'd given up believing in 
them till I knew your mistress — and you." 

" Me ! — I'm not good," said Tom ; " I wish I 
was ! You don't know how bad I feel sometimes 
— ^when any one ill-uses Jack, or turns up their 
nose at me because I'm a 'prentice. You don't 
know how savage I felt when I thrashed Fred 
Jefferies the other day, nor how glad I was when 
it was over to see I'd done it so thoroughly. 
Now, you know, it really was bad of me to feel 
like that ; but, do you know, sir, if it had to be 
done again, I'm afraid I should do it." 

" I'm afraid so too," replied Quarle ; " but I 
think Fred Jefferies will know better than to give 
you the chance." 

Quarle improved rapidly. Mr. Wheatley can- 
didly avowed that the good living and good nursing 
he now enjoyed had far more to do with his im- 
provement than medicine, and Tom, who never 
troubled himself much about such matters when 
once he had settled them to his satisfaction, was 


thinking no more of the thrashing he had given 
Fred Jefferies, when he found that if he had for- 
gotten it his grand relations had not done so. 

About this time Squire Preston came to Bridge- 
town to see what could be done about him. He 
had heard from his sister, Mrs. Jefferies, a long 
account of the cruel usage Fred had received at 
Tom's hands, and called on her as soon as he 
came into the town. 

Her account of Tom's last piece of delin- 
quency was fully confirmed by Fred. He had 
been kept from school that day, both his eyes 
being so swollen, that, as he truthfully declared, 
it was impossible for him to see out of either of 
them. Mrs. Jefferies grew quite eloquent as she 
dwelt on her son's ill-usage to her brother. It 
was impossible, she said, for such a little grace- 
less wretch as Tom to be allowed to remain any 
longer in the town. Frederick's life would not 
be safe if he continued in it, and she implored 
Mr. Preston to use his utmost efforts to induce 
Wilkins to transfer his apprentice to some other 
master. Squire Preston was not too sanguine as 
to the success of his errand, but he went forth 
determined to use his efforts to induce Mr. 
Wilkins to conform to the wishes of Tom's genteel 

But Mr. Wilkins was in no hurry to part with 


Tom. He liked the boy, and would have found 
it difficult to get a more industrious or obedient 
apprentice. It is true he would have been better 
pleased if Tom had not shown himself so fond 
of fighting, or rather not been so willing to per- 
form what he considered his duty in that respect 
in spite of his disinclination to it. But apart 
from this little failing, Tom was so good a lad, 
that independent of the assistance he was in the 
business, Mr. Wilkins would have been sorry to 
part with him. Indeed, Mr. Wilkins had no 
occasion to look too closely at that considera- 
tion. He Was really very well to do, and had 
quite enough for his wife and himself even if he 
gave up the business, which at times lately he 
had thought of doing, especially since that last 
attack of lumbago for which Dr. Jefferies had 
taken him in hand so thoroughly. But then it 
had occurred to him, what was he to do with his 
two apprentices 1 And, even if he were to yield 
to Mr. Preston's wishes and transfer Tom's in- 
dentures, he should still have Dick to look after 
till he was one-and-twenty. 

But he was a well-meaning man and a just 
one, and he thought that it might possibly be a 
bad thing for Tom to grow up in the near neigh- 
bourhood of persons who were constantly calling 
forth so much ill-feeling on the boy's part. And 


it would have been an easy matter for Mr. Wil- 
kins to find another master for Tom, for his 
wife's brother, who was a house carpenter in 
London, would have been ready enough to take 
such a lad as Tom off his hands without even 
requiring any portion of the small premium 
which the parish had paid with him ; for Tom 
knew something of his trade now, and would have 
been an acquisition to any master carpenter. 

But Seth Wilkins was not going to tell Mr. 
Preston all this. He heard all that the Squire 
had to say, and contented himself with replying 
that he would think matters over and see what 
the lad himself had to say to it. Mr. Preston 
thought it was quite unnecessary for him to con- 
sult Tom, who, according to him, ought to have 
no voice at all in the matter, but simply be turned 
over from one master to another like a horse or 
a sheep. But finding Mr. Wilkins resolved that, 
in a matter which so closely affected his appren- 
tice, he himself should be consulted, he suggested 
that it would be as well for Tom to see his rela- 
tions — he was bound to be guided by their wishes 
in the matter — and hear what they thought about 
it. Could Mr. Wilkins spare Tom to come that 
afternoon to Dr. Jefferies, and there he could 
meet the doctor and the lawyer, their ladies and 
himself, all together. 



Mr. Wilkins shook his head. " It's all very 
well for me to tell Tom to go to the doctor's, 
but I doubt — ^yes, I very much doubt whether 
he'd do it. He told Mrs. Wilkins that after the 
way Mrs. Jeflferies treated little Jack he would 
never enter their house again, and never have 
anything to do with one of them ; and except 
in the way of thrashing Master Jefferies once or 
twice, which of course isn't to be regarded as 
keeping on friendly terms with his relations, 
Tom's kept his word. And if he did come, sir, 
and was to fall in with his cousin, why some- 
thing awkward might happen, which would be 
very unpleasant to all parties — especially 
Master Jefferies." 

And having made this long speech, Mr. Wil- 
kins wiped his face nervously and looked at Mr. 
Preston, as if anxious to hear what he had to 
say in reply. That gentleman considered a little, 
and then said, " Well, do you think he would 
come over to my house } There are no boys for 
him to fight there, and he can meet Mrs. Jefferies 
and Mrs. Brown at the same time. They are 
coming over to spend the day with my wife this 
day week. Could you spare the young fellow 
then r 

Yes, Mr. Wilkins thought he could. Tom was 
going over to a farm near the Squire's, and to 


take little Jack back to Ambrose Dunstone's. 
He should call on Mr. Preston then, and Mr* 
Wilkins would lay the case before him in the 
interim, so that he would have time to think 
matters over by himselC 

O 2 



R. WILKINS talked seriously to Tom 
upon the cause of Mr. Preston's visit to 
him. He laid the case fairly and fully before 
him in all its bearings, and even promised that, 
if Tom himself thought it best to go further 
away from his relations, he would do his utmost 
to help him by writing at once to his brother-in- 
law, and offering to transfer Tom's indentures 
to him. Tom's eyes sparkled at the thought of 
going to London ; sixty years ago, when rail- 
roads were unknown, it was a rare chance for a 
country lad to have such an opportunity offered 
him. But he shrank from the thought of leaving 
little Jack ; and Peculiar, who was listening to 
Mr. Wilkins with wide open eyes and mouth, 
clung to his brother as if he would have kept 
him from ever leaving him, but all the while 
saying nothing, having a dim faith, poor child I 
** that Tom would know best." 


"I wish I'd the chance/' said Dick, when they 
were alone. " But it wont do for me to leave 
my old grandfather — at least, he wont let me do 
it. But wouldn't it be jolly, Tom, for you and 
me to go together to seek our fortunes. I won- 
der which would be Lord Mayor first." 

Tom's ambition would have been satisfied by 
something far below that dignity. To pay off 
his father's creditors— especially Quarle — and 
have a home for little Jack, was all he aimed at. 
But he would have felt much more inclined to 
go to London if Dick could have accompanied 
him, for he had an idea, in common with most 
country boys, that fortunes were much more easily 
made there than anywhere else ; and, hard as it 
would be to part with little Jack, still if his 
doing so would lead to their having a home 
together sooner, why it would be the best thing 
to do. But to go qtnte alone into that strange 
great world was too much even for Tom's brave 
heart — it was a very loving one withal, and it 
was too serious an undertaking for him to con- 
template quite calmly. Still, he said that he 
would go and see the Squire, and hear what Mrs. 
Jefferies and Mrs. Brown had to say. After all, 
they were his mother's kin, and it would be only 
right to hear what they had to propose to him. 
And so, accordingly, a week after Squire Pres- 


ton's visit to Mr. Wilkins, Tom started oflf with 
little Jack from Bridgetown, and having left some 
hurdles at a neighbouring farm, found himself 
driving up to the house which had been his 
mother's home. 

It was not at all a grand place, though Mrs. 
Jefferies and Mrs. Brown were fond of talking of it 
as " the Hall," but it had a pleasant, old-fashioned^ 
homelike look that won upon the beholder ; and 
the myrtle grew tall and thick up to the first- 
floor windows, as it will do in the West country. 
Tom remembered to have heard his mother talk 
of this myrtle, and how she would put her hand 
out of the bedroom window — ^the little one over 
the porch — ^to gather its blossoms for a nosegay 
for her toilet table. He looked up at the window 
wistfully, as if trying to catch a glimpse of that 
dear face that would never smile on him more, 
and then pointed it out to Jack as "Mother's 
room, when she was a girl." 

A serving-man came up and took the horse to- 
the stable, and in answer to Tom's inquiry whe- 
ther the Squire was at home, said that he was out 
in one of the fields looking after the men, but 
had left word if Tom came he might wait till he 
came in. Were Mrs. Jefferies and Mrs. Brown in > 
No ; they were expected to dinner, but that was 
not till two o'clock, and it ^^.s t^o^w ot\^ oTva, ^c> 


Tom had better come in the kitchen and eat 
some bread and cheese. 

Tom was not a proud boy, and very ready, 
though his father had kept both men and maids, 
to help Mrs. Wilkins in any little household office 
that a boy could do, and was not at all ashamed 
of being a carpenter's apprentice, who had to 
work for his living, with nothing but his own 
right hand to depend on for his bread ; but to sit 
down with his uncle's servants in titat house was 
what he felt his mother's son had no right 
to do. 

"Thank you," he said, bluntly; "I think 
when my mother lived here, her place was the 
parlour, and if Jack and I ain't fit company for 
that, Tm sure we're not for the kitchen. So 
bring round my horse, my man, and there's six- 
pence for your pains." 

The sixpence was Tom's last — it might be long 
enough before he would have another ; but he 
was not going to give his uncle's servant any 
trouble without paying him ; and the man stared 
at money being offered him by a " 'prentice boy'^ 
for bringing up his cart. But as Tom stood 
there, with his head thrown back and his face 
flushed, he looked very little like a " 'prentice 
boy," but much more like the son of the out- 
spoke/} yeoman, his father, and oi ipx^Vcj ^^.^^>^ 


Lucy Preston, the truest lady that ever bore that 

Tom did not know that any one but the serv- 
ing-man had heard him, but a lady carefully and 
expensively dressed in rich brown silk and with 
choice lace on her mob cap, came out of the house, 
and laid her hand on his shoulder. He recognised 
her for Mrs. Preston. She might have been 
pretty once, but her looks were sadly faded now, 
and she had a worn, anxious expression and a 
timid, nervous manner which gave any one the im- 
pression that she was constantly labouring under 
a secret dread of some one. And in truth this 
was the case ; Mrs. Preston was always in fear of 
her husband. She had brought him money, but 
he took care she should have little to do with the 
spending of it. He liked her to dress well be- 
cause she was his wife, and she sat at the head of 
his table, and was called the mistress of his house, 
but he ruled in everything, and the poor lady 
felt as if she could never meet his requirements, 
let her try as she would. He was a hard, harsh 
man who liked every one around him to have no 
will but his, and generally Mrs. Preston obeyed 
him implicitly, but she had ventured to differ 
from him in one point, and that was his treat- 
ment of his orphan nephews. She had no children 
of her own, poor lady, atvd ^^^ov\d ^c> \ 


liked to have adopted those two boys. She had 
ventured to say as much to her husband, but he 
had been angry with her for even thinking of 
such a thing, and since then she had not dared to 
show any interest in Tom or Jack, though her 
heart had warmed to the motherless children 
whenever she saw them. But she had overheard 
Tom's answer to the old serving-man, and she 
could not refrain from going out and trying to 


soothe the hurt feelings that she felt must have 
prompted the answer. 

" You'll come in, my dear, with me," she said ; 
" John has made a little mistake. Bring the cold 
pigeon pie and some cheesecakes in the parlour 
for my nephews, John. They will want some- 
thing after their ride." 

She took them into the room where she had 
been sitting, and John soon brought the tray, but 
Tom did not care to eat in that house, the master 
of which had said that he and Jack might be 
kept by the parish for anything he would do to 
prevent it. Jack ate a cheesecake, and Tom 
looked round at the pictures. They were not a 
grand collection, nor very finely painted. The 
Prestons were not a rich family, nor of any great 
standing in the county, so their family portraits 
were not likely to be of any great general inte- 
rest, but Tom looked earnestly at them. Mrs. 


Preston saw him doing so, and told him who 
they were, — his grandfather, with powdered hair 
and skyblue coat ; his grandmother, also pow- 
dered and with a long waist and an enormous 
hoop ; the Squire and herself, in their wedding 
clothes ; and, what Tom liked a great deal better, 
a little sketch of his mother as a girl. Then she 
showed him the old china ; great punchbowls full 
of dried rose-leaves, claret beakers, with the 
family coat-of-arms burned on them, curious old 
mugs with dragon handles, which some g^reat- 
uncle had brought from China, and plates of all 
sizes and patterns. After this she took him up- 
stairs into the different bedrooms, and there Tom 
saw the famous patchwork he had heard his 
mother tell of, quilts and testers and bed-curtains 
and valance, all formed of little bits of printed 
cotton, sewn together in different patterns. Those 
were the days for four-post bedsteads, and I can 
assure you the patchwork hangings with which 
Tom's great-aunts had hung them, did credit to 
their industry. Then Mrs. Preston took Tom 
into the little room that had been his mother's, 
telling him she believed it was nearly the same 
as when she occupied it ; and the boy stood 
hushed and reverent, looking on it. Then he 
drew a long breath, and turning to Mrs. Preston, 
said simply, " Thank you, aunt," and followed 


her downstairs, for the sound of wheels was 
heard ; and, leaving him in the parlour, Mrs. 
Preston went out to welcome her sisters-in-law. 

Jack and Tom sat quite quietly for some time, 
looking again at the old-fashioned furniture and 
the pictures on the walls, and thinking — at least 
the former — ^how strange it seemed their mother 
should ever have lived in the house where they 
were now such strangers. After a time John, 
the old serving-man, told them the Squire was 
ready to see them if they would come that way. 
They followed him into a little room called the 
study, where the Squire kept a few books which 
had been in the family for many years. The 
only addition he had ever made to their number 
was " Burn's Justice," which, since he had had 
some hopes of holding a commission of the peace, 
he had purchased secondhand, and on winter 
evenings did his best to understand it, in which 
he succeeded as well as most country gentlemen 
generally do. The Squire was sitting here now, the 
centre of the family group, with Mrs. Jefferies on 
his right hand, Mrs. Brown on his left, and their 
respective husbands by the side of each lady. 
Mrs. Preston was at the window, knitting. She 
looked anxiously at the boys as they entered. 
Poor soul ! how gladly she would iiave kept 
them in her home and acted the mother to them ; 


and how hard it seemed that they had never, 
since their mother's death, been allowed to enter 
the house till now, when the very reason of their 
being there seemed the hardest thing of alL 

Mr. Preston did not tell Tom to sit down. He 
was there to be treated rather like a black sheep, 
something quite unworthy of the honour of being 
considered part of the family, and he addressed 
him in a tone which Mrs. Jefferies thought de- 
lightfully impressive, and calculated to strike awe 
into the mind of the delinquent before them. In 
fact, Mr. Preston was rehearsing the part he 
meant to perform when, as a justice of the peace, 
a refractory vagrant or an incorrigible poacher 
should be brought before him. Besides, he wished 
to impress Tom's mind with a sense of his wicked- 
ness, and make him humble and penitent accord- 
ingly, and glad to atone for his past misconduct 
by going anywhere the family wished, in order 
that he might no longer annoy them by his close 
propinquity. Tom listened very quietly as his 
uncle went over the list of his transgressions — 
his thrashing his cousin Fred, his teaching his 
little brother to be insolent to his relatives. 
These were all the direct charges which the 
Squire could think of, but he made a great many 
vague ones, and these all pointed to the same 
thing, that as Tom had so misbehaved himself 


it would be much better if he would ask his 
master to transfer his indentures to some one in 
his own trade at a suitable distance from the 
town — say Exeter or Somerset — and not remain 
in Bridgetown, where he was a constant annoy- 
ance, and, from his past conduct must always, 
where it was known, be a disgrace, to his family. 

" Unless it is that I've got to get my own living, 
I don't see the disgrace," said Tom ; " and if Fred 
will keep out of my way and let Jack alone, I'll 
keep out of his." 

" You hardened, wicked boy," cried Mrs. Jeffe- 
ries ; " when you are always finding an excuse to 
quarrel with the poor boy, and have already 
nearly killed him." 

" And you are ruining that unfortunate child 
by the way you're bringing him up," cried Mrs. 
Brown. " Mrs. Dunstone ought to know better 
than to let him be so much with you." 

" And if you don't turn from your evil ways 
there's no knowing to what they may bring you," 
said Mr. Brown, solemnly. 

''And your bad companions," added Mrs. 
Jefieries. "I am sorry to say it, Tom, but it's 
well known that you keep company with the 
idlest and worst boys in the town." 

" That he don't," put in Jack, who had been 
listening with open eyes and ears to the storm of 


words poured on his brother, and turning won- 
deringly first to one speaker and then to the 
other — " that he don't ; for nobody can say he 
keeps company with Gus or Fred." 

" And altogether, Tom," said Dr. Jefferies, " it 
seems to me the best and wisest thing you can 
do is to leave the town. We don't wish to be 
hard upon you" — to do him justice, Dr. Jefferies 
believed that he did not — " and if Mr. Wilkins 
can find a safe and respectable master for you at 
a suitable distance, we'll pay your fare by coach 
there, and make you a little present besides." 

" If my master says that IVe served him so 
badly that he wishes to part with me 111 go," 
said Tom, doggedly ; " but Til not leave the 
town because the fine folks that weren't too 
proud once to call themselves my uncles and 
aunts think I'm a disgrace to them now. And as 
to Fred, let him take care of himself. I'll not 
meddle with him if he don't with me — or with 
Jack — and if he does, why, let him look out, 
that's all." 

"Actually threatening Frederick before my 
very face !" cried Mrs. Jefferies, lifting up her 
hands and eyes ; while Tom, turning to Jack, said, 
" Let's go away. Peculiar, we've been here a little 
too long as it is." He was about to lead Jack 
out of the room, when that small person caught 


sight of Mrs. Preston's face. She was looking 
tearfully and anxiously at them. Jack ran across 
the room, jumped into her lap, and kissed her 
repeatedly. Tom walked up to her. " I was 
forgetting my manners, aunt ; Jack's made me 
remember them," and putting forth his hand, 
which the poor lady took in her own trembling 
one, he shook it heartily, and bidding her good- 
bye, walked out of the room, without troubling 
himself about any one else in it. 


a new start in life — how tom followed the 

parson's advice. 

HE winter gave way to the spring, and 
things went on at Bridgetown in much the 
usual way. Old Quarle had recovered, and was 
able to walk about and do his marketings for 
himself. Mrs. General Mauriel was very kind to 
Tom whenever she met him, asking after little 
Jack, and telling Tom he must be sure and come 
to see her whenever he came to Bridgetown ; and 
she had a special pleasure whenever she met the 
doctor or Mrs. Brown in asking them how that 
fine little fellow, their youngest nephew, was. 
But an important event occurred to Dick — 
the cold March winds had carried off his grand- 
father, and he was now left quite alone in the 
world, "with nobody to look after me in one 
place more than another," he said to Tom, " and 
nobody to care for me either, but you, old fellow. 


Oh ! Tom, if you'd only be good-natured enough 
to oblige your fine relations, and go off to Lon- 
don, Td ask the master to let me go too, and we'd 
soon see if we couldn't do something better for 
ourselves than we shall ever be able to do here." 
Some thoughts of the same kind had occurred 
to Mr. Wilkins. They might never have crossed 
his mind had it not been for Mr. Preston's visit, 
but he had since then often found himself specu- 
lating upon the feasibility of giving up business 
and taking a cottage a little way out of the town, 
where he might spend his time in cultivating a 
garden, and amuse himself with keeping pigs and 
poultry. His health had been getting much 
worse lately. Dr. Jefferies had certainly cured 
the lumbago, but he had so prostrated his patient 
by his treatment of the complaint, that, as Mrs. 
Wilkins often said, Seth would have been far 
better had he let him alone altogether. Some- 
times Tom thought his master would be very 
well pleased if he were to ask him to transfefr 
his indentures, and at last he talked the matter 
over with Dick, and they came to the conclusion 
that they would broach the question to Mr. Wil- 
kins, and if he felt that he would rather give up 
business than continue it on their account, leave 
it to him to transfer their services to another 



Mr. Wilkins was not ill-pleased when the boys 
did so, though he heard what they had to say 
with his usual mournful gravity. He said he 
would take time to consider, and consult the 
mistress and the minister. For himself, he should 
not be sorry to give up the business ; it did not 
— ^it was no use hiding the truth — it did not pay, 
and he should never be able to work again as he 
had done at it, which of course would make the 
loss all the greater ; still it was not right to think 
only of himself, he must consider what was 
best to be done for the boys ; he had taken them 
as his apprentices and he must do his duty by 
them. And the boys knew that there for the 
present the matter must rest, and, whatever Seth 
Wilkins thought was his duty by them, that was 
what he would try to do. 

He talked the matter over with his wife and 
Mr. Dennes. Mrs. Wilkins was fond of both the 
boys, still she could not help thinking they might 
do better for themselves in London than in such 
a quiet little place as Bridgetown ; and she knew 
that her husband was no longer able to work as 
he had done, but wanted rest and quiet ; and the 
minister was much of her way of thinking; 
besides, the old man felt that it was a bad thing 
for Tom to be living so near his relations, and 
to have his feelings so frequently embittered by 


their insolence and contempt. He would be far 
better away from them all, there could only be 
ill feelings constantly excited whenever they 
came in contact. The next thing was for Mr. 
Wilkins to write to his brother-in-law, asking 
him if he would take both the boys as apprentices 
to finish their time with him. 

The answer, anxiously expected by both Tom 
and Dick, came back in due course. Mr. Groom 
could find room for them both, as they seemed 
likely, handy lads ; and as he was very busy just 
now, the sooner they came the better. Then 
Mrs. Wilkins began to bestir herself to prepare 
all things for their journey. She washed and 
mended their linen, saw that they had new boots 
and warm comforters and coats for the journey, 
while Mr. Wilkins applied to Mr. Brown to 
arrange the legal matters connected with the 
change of masters. That gentleman ^Vas very 
ready to do his part towards sending Tom away,, 
but when he was reminded of Dr. Jefferies* 
promise that if Tom left the town his relations 
would pay his coach fare to his next destination, 
he refused to give any assistance himself or to ask 
the other members of the family to do so. Tom 
had not gone when they asked him, but had 
stayed till it suited his own convenience to leave 
the town, and had behaved with very great in- 

P 2 


science to the whole of his relations when they 
expressed a wish that for their own credit's 
sake he should leave the place where he had so 
di^raced them. 

Tom was not sorry when he heard of this. He 
had no wish to be under any obligation to people 
who were ashamed of him. "Never mind, 
master," he said, stoutly, " Dick and I will trudge 
it. We can easily do our twenty miles a day, 
and shall get to London in less than a week at 
that rate." 

But Mr. Wilkins would not hear of their going 
to London in such a manner, though both Dick 
and Tom would have liked it very much better 
than even going by the coach, but as a waggon 
was to leave Bridgetown in three days' time, itwas 
arranged that they should go by that. The 
waggoner was a steady, good-humoured fellow, 
and would look after the boys at nighttime, and 
they would be as safe under his charge as if they 
went by coach ; and as to their being longer on 
the road, why that would only give them more 
time to see the country through which they 

Tom went over to see Jack before he left. It 
was a hard parting for the boys ; Peculiar clung 
to his brother and kissed him again and again 
when it came to the last, and seemed as if he 


could not bring himself to part with him. At 
last Tom had to undo his hands gently from his 
neck and place him on the ground. " Don't fret, 
Jack, it's all for the best. I'll work so kard to 
get a home for us both, and then you shall 
live with me, and we'll never be parted any 

Then Tom tore himself away and ran off as 
fast as he could, for fear he should hear Jack 
crying after him ; but he need not have been 
afraid. Jack had made up his mind that it was 
for the best, since Tom said so, and that he would 
keep down his tears if possible. But he sulked 
instead for two days, scarcely vouchsafing to 
speak to Mrs. Ambrose or her husband, and at 
the end of that time went about much as usual, 
only that he was quieter and graver, and, as Mrs. 
Ambrose said, "more like an old folks' bairn 
than ever." * 

But when Tom was out of sight of the farm- 
house, he sat down and had a thorough good cry 
by himself. Poor little Jack ! how could he ever 
have brought himself to part with him } It was 
too late now, or I think Tom would have been 
glad to have given up the idea of going to Lon- 
don, after all, sooner than bear the heart-wrench 
parting with Jack inflicted on him. But he felt 
better and more hopeful after a time, and rose 


up, determined to do his very best to keep his 
word to Jack, and make a home for him before 

As He entered the town he met old Quarle, 
who stepped up to him and said, wistfully, '* So 
I hear you're going to leave us ?'* 

" Yes ; I want to see what I can do for myself 
in London," said Tom, cheerily. "They say 
that's the best place to make money in.*' 

" And to lose it, too," said Quarle. 

"Well, none to lose," replied Tom; 
•*' but I want to make all I can. There's Jack to 
be thought of — and you, Mr. Quarle." 

" You can think of me — in the way you mean 
— ^when I ask you," replied the old man, sullenly ; 
" but if you'd drop me a linenow and then, just 
to let me know how you are getting on, I should 
be glad : and you needn't mind about the postage* 
I'd pay that. But you're a foolish boy to go ; 
the town wont seem the same without you ; and 
you might have done better for yourself if you 
Jiad stopped here." 

He turned away, and Tom went on, thinking 
liow strange it was that he should feel sorry at 
parting with old Quarle. He met the parson 
next, and he stopped him with " So, my boy, 
you're going to leave us. Well, London's a large 
place; there's room for a fellow to strike out 


there. I hope we shall hear of your doing 

" I hope so, sir," said Tom. 

" You're the right sort to get on," sgid Mr. 
Trevor; " I think you'll know how to take care of 
yourself. Go on as youVe begun. Work hard, 
speak the truth, never quarrel if you can help it, 
but if you can't, why stand up for your rights 
like a man, and show folks a west-country boy 
can hit out from the shoulder with any of them. 
And there's something to keep your pocket warm, 
my lad, and so good-bye," and the parson shook 
hands heartily with Tom and stood looking after 
him as he walked up the street, saying to him- 
self, " It would have been almost worth while to 
have got married to have had such a fellow as 
that for a son. If he only does as well as he de- 
serves he'll come back the richest of the family. 
They wont think him so much of a disgrace to 
them then." 

Tom had not gone far before he met Mrs. 
General. Every one seemed out this fine evening 
as if to bid him good-bye. He touched his cap 
respectfully, and was about to pass her without 
speaking, when she stopped him— 

" I'm so sorry, Tom, you're going away. 
There'll be no one to keep those nice boys your 
cousins in order if you leave the town. But I shall 


have little Jack to come and stop with me at 
times, and 1*11 take good care neither Frederick 
nor Gussy annoys him. There, I dare say you'll 
find some use for that ; you'll be a strange boy 
if you don't" 

She slipped a five-shilling piece into his hand 
as she spoke, and tapping his cheek, said kindly^ 
"Good-bye; keep a stout heart, and 111 look 
after little Jack, and see how soon I can teach 
him to send you a long letter telling you the 


She turned away, and the same thought 
crossed her mind that had the parson's, for she 
said to herself, " Well, I never liked babies, but 
I do think I wouldn't have minded being plagued 
with one to have seen him grow up into a boy 
like that. Ah, dear ! how proud I should have 
been of him ! — and what a soldier he would have 
made, to be sure." 

Mr. Dennes came that evening to Mr.Wilkins's. 
He stayed to supper, and afterwards offered up 
prayers, pouring forth a special petition for the 
two youths about to leave their native place and 
try their fortunes amongst strangers. It was a 
very simple prayer, but came home to the heart 
of those who heard it, and when it was over the 
old man gave each of the boys his little present 
— a small pocket Testament. They were strongly 


but cheaply bound — little homely-looking books^ 
but Tom and Dick possess them yet, and, well 
thumbed and worn as they are, would not part 
with them for the most gorgeous volume that 
was ever issued from a bookseller's shop. Then 
Tom and Dick went upstairs and spent their last 
night together in the little attic, and the next 
morning they rose early, for the waggon started 
at seven, and came down to breakfast, which 
Mrs. Wilkins had all ready for them. 

She kissed them at parting as if they had been 
her very own boys, and Seth shook hands with 
them, saying, "You've been good lads, and I 
hope you'll do as well with your new master as 
you have with me. It seems hard to part with 
you, for I never had better 'prentices ; but I hope 
I've done all for the best, and that time will 
prove it." 

" Thank you, sir," cried Dick, heartily, " and 
I hope our new master will be as good a one as 
the old. We'll do our duty by him, wont we^ 
Tom, if he is r 

" Yes, and even if he isn't," said Tom ; " but he 
must be one of the right sort, being the mistress's 
brother. Good-bye, master ; good-bye, mistress ; 
you'll remember little Jack." 

" That I will, Tom," replied Mrs. Wilkins ; " he 
shall often come and spend a week with us. 


Good-bye, God bless you ; — g — g — good-bye." 
Mrs. Wilkins was fairly overcome, and turning 
back into her kitchen sat down by the table and 
sobbed outright. Her husband came to comfort 
lier, and the boys went on by themselves to the 
, inn-yard from which the waggon was about to 

The four horses looked fresh and vigorous for 
their journey ; the waggoner was in good spirits, 
and very well pleased with his companions for 
the road. A number of boys, old friends of Dick 
and Tom, were waiting there to see them oflF. 
There was such a shaking of hands and utterance 
of good wishes. " Come and see us again before 
long, Tom. You'll ride in your coach, now, before 
any of us." " Oh, yes ; that will be the lord 
mayor's." " Good-bye, Dick ; mind you let us 
all know how you are getting on." And then 
up came Harry Swain with two knives, which he 
had been saving up his pocket-money to buy 
since he had first heard of the likelihood of his 
friends going, and had got his mother to help 
him as his own funds were not quite sufficient. 
They were exactly alike, strong buckhorn han- 
dles and two blades to each. He gave one to 
Tom and the other to Dick, and said, as he 
shook hands with the former, " Don't you fear 


for little Jack ; if he comes to Bridgetown Til take 
care of him." 

Then Tom and Dick got on the seat, one on 
each side of the driver, and as the waggon drove 
off the boys set up a loud hurra ! and took off 
their hats and waved them in the air, and Tom , 
and Dick took off theirs too, and shouted hurra 
in return, and tried to look as if they were not at 
all sorry that they were going to leave Bridgetown, 
but looked upon it as a very jovial thing indeed 
to do, and, one that there was no occasion at all 
for any uneasiness about. 

The boys ran after them to the outskirts of the 
town ; some of them — Harry was one — a little 
further; but when the last of them had gone, 
Dick gave a very heavy sigh, and looking rather 
dolefully at Tom, said, " We've seen the last of 
Bridgetown folks for one while, I reckon." 

Not quite the last however, for when the 
waggon had gone a few yards further they espied 
Master Fred leaning his back against a stile, and 
talking to Gussy, who was surveying the waggon 
with rather a supercilious air. Mrs. Brown had 
taken it into her head that her dear child Gussy 
required strengthening, and there was nothing, 
she knew very well, like new milk drunk fasting 
for that purpose, and therefore she wished Gussy to 


go every morning to a farm a little way out of the 
town, in order to get some ; and Fred, who liked 
new milk very well too, generally accompanied 
his cousin on these excursions. " Til take no 
notice of them," thought Tom ; " it's not worth 
while to get into a row just as one's leaving the 
town. Besides, as parson told me, it's as well 
not to quarrel if one can help it." 

But Fred was not so peaceably disposed as 
Tom, or rather he thought this a favourable op- 
portunity for indulging in a little impertinence, 
so he raised his voice, and, looking significantly 
at Tom, said, in a tone evidently meant for him 
to hear, "There goes a good riddance of bad 

" Did you mean me ?" asked Tom, looking 
down from the height of the waggon seat. 

" What's that to you if I did ?" replied Fred. 
" Every one knows that you're only leaving the 
town because folks wont let you stay in it any 
longer. Have you got any message to that little 
beggar brother of yours when I see him ?" 

Down Tom sprang, though the waggoner 
began to remonstrate with, " Oi can't stop vor 
voighting ; ye'U have to catch the waggon up 
as ye can, or be left behoind if ye don't. Oi'm 
behoind time as it is." 

" I shan't be long settling him," replied Tom, 


and ran up to Fred, who, seeing Tom was in 
earnest, began to think of running away, but was 
stopped, before he had retreated half-a-dozen 
yards, by a well-aimed blow, which showed that if 
Tom remembered the parson's advice about not 
quarrelling if he could help it, he had not forgotten 
what he told him about hitting out in good west- 
country style. Down Fred went, and rolled over 
and over till he found a soft but not agreeable 
bed in a ditch, where a close growth of nettles 
concealed a stratum of thick, black, juicy mud. 
Fred's face and hands were stung in fifty places, 
and his clothes covered with mud, while Tom 
stood triumphantly over him. 

" Tell the beggar-boy when you see him how 
IVe served you ; and that, if you ill-use him in 
any way. Til pay you off ten times worse, if I 
have to walk all the way from London to do it." 

Then Tom took his place by the side of the 
waggoner as coolly as if nothing had happened ; 
and this was the last he saw for many a long day 
of any of his fine relations. 



ngnN the whole, I am inclined to think that it 
fsSa was a very good thing Tom's relations 
refused to pay his coach fare up to town for him. 
It was every way better travelling in the waggon ; 
it gave the boys plenty of opportunities for seeing 
the different counties through which they passed, 
of walking by hedgerows fresh with the sweet 
May greenness, of resting at midday at some 
pleasant roadside inn, of chatting to the country 
people, of seeing curious old churches and plea- 
sant homesteads. Then there were the towns, 
and excepting Bridgetown, which was but a small 
place, the boys had never been in one. So when 
they passed through Bristol, almost as smoky 
and dirty sixty years ago as it is now, they were 
lost in amaze at its size, and the number of its 
houses, and the contents of its shops. 


" Is London bigger and busier than this ?** 
asked Dick of the waggoner, who was a man of 
great experience, and thought no more of a visit 
to London, as Dick said, than /le would of going 
to Boreham. 

"Yo*ll see," replied the man, laughing, "and 
Oi waunt say but in parts it's a*most as dirty." 

Then they came to Bath, which made Tom 
feel as if it was a city out of Fairyland, especially 
as the evening was closing in, and the glimmering 
lights in the streets shone on its strange white 
loveliness. "Is London more beautiful than 
this }** he asked of the waggoner. "No — it can't 

" Oi daun't think it can," replied the man. "To 
my thinking, country folk will never fall in love 
with London for its looks." 

They passed through Reading, and then 
through Windsor, when Tom, who was very loyal, 
as all the Dunstones had ever been, looked at 
the Castle, massive and towering over the little 
town crouching humbly at its feet, and thought 
sadly of the poor old sovereign shut within its 
walls with darkened eyes and mind. "As happy 
as a king !" he said, half aloud, — " well, it don't 
hold true in his case." 

" Not quite," said Dick. " I wonder what 
he'd give, Tom, if he could change with us ?" 


They left Windsor behind, and proceeded 
towards Hounslow. Dobbs the waggoner had 
intended to put up there for the night, and start 
by daybreak in the morning, so as to be in Lon- 
don in good time. Hounslow Heath sixty years 
ago did not bear the best of characters. It was 
a favourite resort of highwaymen, and few re- 
spectable people cared to be out late on it A 
railroad now runs near the heath, which is pretty 
well covered with trim villas and pretty cottages. 
But at the time of which I speak the heath 
stretched for miles without a house upon it — a 
large wide expanse, only broken with furze 
bushes and brambles, with here and there a tree. 
One tree in particular there was of which terrible 
stories were told — " Steele's May." It was a 
large old hawthorn, that grew in the loneliest 
part of the Staines road, and, underneath this 
tree, it was said that some years previously a 
man of the name of Steele had been cruelly 
murdered, and that his ghost still haunted it. 
Dobbs the waggoner repeated this legend to the 
boys with sundry embellishments of his own, and 
it was very clear that, whether true or not, he 
firmly believed in it. Of the murder there was 
indeed no question ; that was a well authenticated 
fact ; but of the ghost I would not be quite so sure. 
As to the tree, I have seen it myself, and believe 


it is still in existence ; but if so, it must be sur- 
rounded with houses, and the Staines Road is 
now a lively thoroughfare, with horses and car- 
riages continually going to and fro in its centre, 
and nursemaids with perambulators on its side- 
paths, and at any time in the twenty-four hours 
I suppose it would be as safe as any other part 
of the kingdom, instead of being the lonely, 
dreary track through the bare, black heath it was 
sixty years ago, desolate and eerie looking at all 
hours to those who knew itS evil fame, and a 
place to be shunned and dreaded by all honest 
men as night drew near. 

Tom and Dick listened, as boys were sure to 
do, with great interest to all Dobbs's stories of 
Hounslow Heath, and of Steele's May in particular. 
The waggoner, as he spoke, urged his horses on 
faster, for he had no wish to be late in passing 
through the heath, not caring to meet with either 
the ghost or the robbers who were supposed to 
frequent it. They had not gone above four 
miles from Windsor when Dobbs saw that the 
girth of one of his horses was unloosed. He 
got down rather quickly to fasten it, and, his 
foot slipping, fell heavily on the ground, and had 
he been but two inches nearer the waggon the 
wheels must have passed over him. The boys 
jumped down and helped him up, but when he 



tried to stand he found the pain of his foot so 
great that, great strong man though he was, it 
nearly caused him to faint. He sat down on 
the ground for awhile, and when a little recovered 
tried once more to ascend the waggon in order 
to drive, but found it impossible to do so, as the 
pain he felt the moment he put his foot* to the 
ground was more than he could bear. A labour- 
ing man passing by inquired what was amiss, 
and on being told, pronounced the accident to 
be most likely a sprain, which would disable 
Dobbs for several days, and offered to assist the 
boys in placing him inside the waggon, as his 
driving it was quite out of the question. 

Dobbs reluctantly assented to this, and with 
some difficulty he was placed in a tolerably com- 
fortable position amongst the sacks and barrels 
in the waggon. Then the question arose what 
was next to be done. Dick offered to take the 
reins, and felt confident in his own ability to 
drive if need were to London. But Dobbs would 
not hear of this. In the first place, he felt 
jealous that a boy like Dick should drive the 
four horses that he flattered himself no one could 
manage as well as he did ; and in the next, the 
pain in his foot was so great that he was anxious 
to have it attended to as soon as possible. He 
therefore told Dick that he would trust him to 


drive, but that it could only be as far as the 
Three Magpies, a small inn on the outskirts of 
Windsor, the people of which he knew very well, 
and that he would put up his horses there for 
the night, and by the next morning might pos- 
sibly be able to drive them himself. Dick turned 
the horses' heads round, and they retraced the 
two miles they had travelled past the Three 
Magpies ; but on arriving there Dobbs^s ankle 
was pronounced by the village doctor, who was 
quickly summoned to it, to be so badly sprained 
that it would be at least a week before he would 
be able to set his foot to the ground. 

This was worse news than even the country- 
man who had helped Dobbs into the waggon 
had led them to expect. Tom and Dick felt 
that it would not do for them to stop with Dobbs 
till he was able to drive them into London. 
They were expected there, and they could not 
afford to stop at the inn ; they felt sorry to leave 
the waggoner, but he was evidently in good 
hands, and would be well taken care of. The 
•distance from Windsor to London was not more 
than they could easily walk that afternoon and 
the next day, if Dobbs felt disinclined to trust 
them with the waggon. 

And this they found Dobbs was. He quite 
laughed at the idea of two such boys driving 



his horses through " Lunnun streets and into the 

So Dick and Tom thought it best to start at 
once, as the afternoon was drawing on, and they 
had twelve good miles to walk before they reached 
the Bell inn at Hounslow, where they thought 
of putting up for the night, and starting early 
the next morning for London. They left their 
bundles in Dobbs's charge, only taking with 
them their remaining provisions, which would 
just suffice for their supper, and two or three 
articles they would require for the night, and 
then, bidding the waggoner good-bye, away they 

" We must walk fast, Tom," said Dick, " or 
we shan't get clear of that heath before dark. 
Well, we haven't got much to be robbed of, that's 
one thing, if we do fall in with any footpads ; 
but the ghost would be an awkward customer. 
I shouldn't much like to come across him." 

They trudged on manfully, not sitting down 
to rest till they reached Hounslow Heath, by 
which time they began to feel very tired. 

" It's not dark yet, though it soon will be,'^ 
said Dick ; " suppose we rest a bit and get our 
supper. It will be better to eat it here than at 
the Bell, where they might think we ought to 
buy what we want of them. Here's a nice 


place just by this stile. It's quite dry, and if 
we do see any queer customers coming we can 
pop across the stile and hide behind the hedge ; 
and it's too soon yet for there to be any chance 
of our meeting the ghost." 

" If it wasn't, I think we're just in the right 
spot for it," said Tom ; " for this looks to me 
very like the tree Dobbs was telling us of ; see, 
It's may — the buds are opening — he said it was 
near a stile, and not a house or scarcely another 
tree in sight. It's Steele's May, you may be 
sure of it, Dick. Do you think you shall fancy 
eating your supper under it .^" 

" Well, I'm terribly tired and hungry," said 
Dick, "and I don't like going further just because 
there's a chance of seeing a ghost that's no busi- 
ness at all to show itself till after dark. Besides, 
we ain't sure that this is the tree, after all, so 
pull out the pasties, .Tom, and let's have some 

The pasties were soon disposed of, but both 
Dick and Tom felt unwilling to rise and seek 
their quarters at the Bell. They were thoroughly 
tired, and the evening was so sweet and still, 
only broken by the "jug-jug" of the nightingale, 
and the stars one after another came out shining 
so peacefully down on the weary boys, that it 
seemed hard to exchange all this soft, gentle 


beauty for the noise and the smells of a close 
village inn. 

"It'll be long enough before we see the 
country again," said Tom, throwing himself on 
his back, and placing his arm under his head, sa 
that he might look the better at the starlit sky 
above him. 

" Long enough indeed," said Dick, following 
Tom's example ; " we may as well stop a little 
longer in it while we can. / don't believe ghosts 
ever stir out till midnight, and as to footpads,, 
they wont think of carrying on their trade such 
a fine night as this ; so we wont hurry away,, 
but stop here and take our chance — eh, Tom ?" 

" I don't mind," said Tom. " I'm not much 
afraid of either the ghost or the thieves ; and 
I expect it's a deal nicer here than at the Bell. 

The two boys remained silent after this, and 
gradually, although nothing was further from 
either of their intentions when they lay down, 
fell off asleep. All was so still around, and 
they were so tired, having not only walked from 
Windsor in the afternoon, but walked for some 
miles by the side of the waggon in the early 
part of the day, that they slept for some hours,, 
and might have done so for a much longer period 
had not the sound of voices roused Tom, wha 
was always a much lighter sleeper than Dick. 

7n« mea a-ere Iridinn ntir Ihc pi-aljale /Spr.ic «/ n third." — P. i.)i. 


He rubbed his eyes, and, leaning on his elbow,, 
listened and glanced around him. To describe 
what now took place ; and which I wish you, 
boys, to bear in mind, was a real occurrence, and 
not an imaginary adventure just invented by me 
for your amusement ; you must remember the 
precise position of the tree (which was the 
veritable "Steele's May"), and Tom. It was 
right before him, and about four feet distant.. 
The moon was obscured, and the nighf much 
darker than it had been when they lay down, so 
that any one on the other side of the tree might 
easily overlook the dark recumbent figures of 
the sleeping boys. And just on the other side 
of the tree two men were bending over the pros- 
trate figure of a third, and rifling his pockets 
as fast as they could, replying to his entreaties 
for mercy by oaths and jeers ; but Tom was a 
bold boy, so pulling his red cotton handkerchief 
out he threw it over his face, and slowly rising, 
uttered a long-drawn sigh or groan. The moon 
was at his back, and its fitful, misty light gave 
Tom a shadowy appearance, and the thieves, 
who knew the legend of " Steele's May" well 
enough, gave a cry of horror and darted from 
the place. Tom took his handkerchief off* and 
came towards the person whom he had rescued. 
He was getting slowly on his feet, but was so 


shaken by the attack made on him and the 
ghost-like appearance which had scared his 
assailants, that he was obliged to lean against the 
tree, gasping and breathless. 

" Tm no ghost, sir," said Tom. " Here's my 
hand, if you like to feel if it's real flesh and blood. 
I hope I was in time to hinder those rascals from 
robbing you ?" 

The stranger felt in his pockets. " My purse 
is safe, and so is my pocket-book, and there was 
more in both than I should like to lose. But — 
but — " he felt in his great-coat pocket anxiously, 
'*they have taken what is of far more conse- 
quence than money — they have robbed me of 
some very important papers ! I would sooner 
have lost my purse and pocket-book ten times 
over than I would these." 

He was evidently so concerned for his loss 
that Tom and Dick, who was now awake, felt 
quite sorry for him. They could only try to 
console by saying that as the papers could not 
be of any possible use to the thieves, they might 
restore them to him if he offered a reward. This 
might be, the gentleman owned ; at any rate it 
was all he could do ; and now feeling himself 
able to walk, he said that he would get to the 
Bell, where he meant to pass the night, and 
asked the boys which way they were going. 


" To the Bell, too," replied Tom ; and then 
told the stranger how it had happened that Dick 
and he were in the way when the robbers at- 
tacked him. To this the other replied that they 
must sup with him, and he would pay for their 
night's lodging and breakfast — it was the least 
he could do in return for the service Tom had 
rendered him. He would take no denial, and in 
a little time further the boys found themselves 
very comfortably installed in the best parlour of 
the Bell, with a tempting dish of lamb's fry 
smoking before them, to which, in spite of their 
supper off the pasties, they did ample justice. 
They found their entertainer a pleasant chatty 
person, although not able to shake off the annoy- 
ance the loss of his papers had caused him. 
While supper was preparing he had called the 
landlord in and acquainted him with his loss, 
stating that he had been attacked by thieves 
and robbed of some important papers, for the 
recovery of which he was willing to give fifty 
pounds, " and ask no questions," he added, sig- 
nificantly. He did not say a word about the 
ghost — it was as well, he told the boys when 
they were alone, for the rascals to think it was 
Steele himself who had scared them from their 
prey ; but he asked the landlord if he would 
allow a placard offering a reward for the papers 


to be placed in his taproom, as it was as well 
that its value to its present possessors should be 
known in the neighbourhood where they might 
still be lurking. 

Mr. Slight made no objection. As he said, 
"all sorts came to the tap-room of an inn, and a 
landlord couldn't tell honest men from rogues, 
but must treat all alike as long as they behaved 
civilly and paid their score, and it was quite pos- 
sible, though the thieves themselves might be 
afraid of venturing into such a public place, some 
of their friends might, and so they would learn 
that the papers they had got would be worth some- 
thing to them if given up to the right owner. It 
was very likely, more than likely, he thought, 
that in a very short time the gentleman would 
have his papers again ; only there was no doubt 
he would have to pay pretty handsomely for 

That Mr. Garland said he was quite willing to 
do. The papers were of great consequence to 
him, and he was very ready to give fifty pounds 
for their restoration. Then the lamb's fry was 
brought in, and Mr. Garland did the honours of 
it to the boys, and when it was over he had a 
glass of hot brandy and water for himself, and 
some negus for Tom and Dick. They had never 
tasted it before, and found it very good indeed, and 
they all three got very sociable over their liquor. 


and Mr. Garland told them of some of the sights 
of London that they must be sure to go and see, 
and led them on to speak of their journey up ta 
town, and the life they had led in Bridgetown,, 
and got quite interested in little Jack, and 
laughed heartily when Dick told him how Tom 
had taken farewell of his cousin Fred Jefferies. 

Then he told them of himself. He was a so- 
licitor, living near Gray's Inn. These papers 
belonged to a very wealthy client of his, and 
circumstances had occurred which made him 
think that it would be advisable to have counsel's 
opinion upon them. For that purpose he had 
gone down the day before to Heston, a village a 
little distance from Hounslow, to submit the pa- 
pers to an old friend of his, whom a fit of the gout 
confined to his country house. He had left after 
dinner, intending to take the mail, which passed 
through Hounslow every evening ; but he was 
late in arriving at the high road. Heston lay 
some distance from it, and he found the coach 
had gone on. He walked on, intending to sleep at 
the Bell, and take the early coach the next morn- 
ing, when he was attacked by the footpads, and 
despoiled of the very papers he had consulted 
his friend about. But, however, he had good 
hopes of their restoration ; the landlord would 
take care the reward he offered should become 
known, and fifty pounds would be worth a ^xea5L 


deal more to the rascals than a parcel of law 
papers. He asked Tom and Dick a few questions 
about Bridgetown and some of the people in it. 
He had been there some years ago upon business. 
The mayor that year was Mr. Brown, he heard, 
a gentleman in the same profession as him- 

" I know," said Dick, " and a fine mayor he 
made, the worst Bridgetown had had for many 
a long day — so folks said, for it was before my 
time ; but he's a nice man, ain*t he, Tom." Then 
Dick chuckled. " Tom's bashful, sir, and don't 
like to sing his praises. He's his own uncle, 

" In — deed !" said Mr. Garland, looking rather 
surprised and slightly incredulous. 

" He married my mother's sister," said Tom, 
testily, " but I don't see that that makes him my 
uncle — does it, sir } if I don't want to own 
him .?" 

" Well, the relationship needn't distress you if 
you don't like the connexion," replied Mr. Gar- 
land, laughing ; " for I suppose he didn't ask 
your consent to the marriage." 

" I'd have said no if he had," replied Tom ; 
** but I wasn't born when it took place ; I 
suppose he and the doctor too are quite good 


enough for the fine ladies they married. I don't 
call them aunts, you know, sir, though they were 
my mother's sisters. Mrs. Preston's worth a 
dozen of them." 

" Yes, Tom's got some tidy relations," replied 
Dick ; "that Fred Jefferies he laid in the nettles 
so nicely is one of them." 

" But what relation is Mrs. Preston to him } ** 
asked Mr. Garland, glancing curiously at Tom as 
he sipped his brandy and water. 

** Married my mother's brother," replied Tom. 
" She's a good, kind lady ; but Ae" — Tom's 
honest face grew dark as he continued — "wouldn't 
move his finger to save little Jack and me from the 

" Not a very nice uncle," said Mr. Garland. 

" I should say not," replied Dick, indignantly. 
" Why, that old Quarle, miser as he is, is worth 
a dozen of him." 

" What, is old Quarle a friend of yours ?" asked 
Mr. Garland. " I saw something of him when I 
was at Bridgetown." 

" Oh, no friend of Tom's," cried Dick, laugh- 
ing. "At any rate, he wouldn't own him as such 
any more than he will his relations as aunt and 
uncle ; but if ever the old man gets into a scrape 
— and he's an unlucky old fellow — Tom's always 


the one to get him out of it. I don't know what 
hell do now Tom's not in Bridgetown to look 
after him." 

"As well as he did before I went there," replied 
Tom, a little sulkily. He was not too fond of 
hearing his good deeds to Quarle spoken of, 
feeling rather ashamed of them in fact. It seemed 
to him as if he had scarcely a right to befriend 
the man who had been so pitiless to his father ; 
but Mr. Garland looked interested, and drew 
Dick on to tell him of the different adventures in 
which Quarle had figured, and Tom had helped 

Soon after this he lit the bedchamber candle 
for the boys, saying it was time for them all to 
retire for the night, and Dick and Tom were 
ushered into a very comfortable room — a very 
different chamber to the one that would have 
been given them had they come by themselves. 
They had imagined that Mr. Garland was about 
to go to his own room at the same time they 
were shown into theirs ; but when he found him- 
self alone he drew his chair nearer the fireplace, 
and sat looking with folded hands into the fire for 
awhile. His thoughts seemed anything but plea- 
sant ones, and at last he rose, as if feeling it was 
worse than useless to entertain them any longer. 



murmuring, as he did so, " This may be a bad 
thing for old Quarle, and a good one for the 
Squire ; and on the whole I am inclined to 
think with my young friend Dick, that the 
miser's the best man of the two." 



HE next morning Tom and Dick rose 
early, intending, after a frugal breakfast, to 
walk on to town ; but Mr. Garland, who was down 
soon after they were, insisted on their breakfast- 
ing with him, and travelling by the coach. " You 
needn't mind letting me be paymaster," he 
added. " Remember, if it hadn't been for you I 
should have had my purse and pocket-book 
stolen as well as the papers." 

They had a capital breakfast — it was long 
enough before they had such another — and the 
Windsor coach coming up soon after, they got 
on the outside, and entered London in very good 
style indeed. The coach stopped at the White 
Horse Cellar, and they all got down, Mr. Gar- 
land calling a hackney coach to take him to 
his office — neither cabs nor omnibuses were as 
yet in existence — and then turning to the boys. 


he shook hands with them both, giving Tom his 
address, which he had written down on a leaf out 
of his pocket-book. 

" There, my lads, I shall expect to see more of 
you ; and when I do .see you I hope I shall be 
able to tell you good news of the papers. Good- 
bye ; there's something to go sight-seeing with." 

He slipped a guinea in Tom's hand as he 
spoke, and jumped into the hackney-coach. Tom 
showed the money to Dick, who observed — 

" When we do get a holiday, wont this treat us 
to a lot of sights } I say, Tom, this is a famous 
beginning, isn't it V 

But the beginning, on the whole, was not so 
good as Dick had imagined. On arriving at the 
house in Carnaby-strcet where Mrs. Wilkins's 
brother lived, they were rather startled to find 
the shop shut up, and all the upper window 
blinds drawn down. On knocking at the door 
it was answered by a middle-aged woman dressed 
in black, who looked like a respectable servant ; 
and on their asking for Mr. Groom, she put her 
apron to her eyes, and with a mournful shake of 
the head informed them that he had died two 
days before. She took them into a tidy kitchen 
at the back of the shop, and there entered into 
further particulars, as she easily guessed from 
their appearance that they were the apprentices 



from the country whom her master had told her 
of. Mr. Groom's illness had been very short, she 
said ; not above five days. She thought one of 
the lodgers had written to Mrs. Wilkins. The 
landlord was trying to re-let the house already, 
and a tailor in the same street was in treaty for 
the shop. She didn't know whether Mrs. Wilkins 
would think it worth while to come to town, or 
whether she would leave the management of 
affairs to her and Mr. Groom's niece, to whom it 
was believed he had left all his property. 

This was dreary news for Tom and Dick ; how 
were they to obtain employment ? and till they 
got it, where should they look for a home } They 
walked away very sadly, though the housekeeper 
pressed them to stay as long as they pleased ; 
going on together and looking only for " a quiet 
place to talk things over in." 

But quiet places, as they found after awhile, 
are not easily met with in London streets. At 
last they came to Bloomsbury-square, and here 
they walked up and down by the railings dis- 
cussing their very unpleasant and unexpected 

Dick was for stopping a couple of days in 
London, spending Mr. Garland's money in sight- 
seeing, and then returning home in a waggon as 
they had come. But Tom scouted the idea. " It 


will never do to go back like that ; the master 
has shut up his shop by this, and how can we 
ask him to open it for us ? Besides, now we are 
in London my notion is to strike out and see 
what we can do for ourselves. There must be 
plenty of carpenters in want of boys, and we're 
both of us good hands at our trade. IVe no 
notion of trudging back to Bridgetown till weVe 
tried everything else. So now let's go and look 
out for a master, and then after awhile we'll see 
about some dinner." 

They walked through Gray's Inn Road and 
Holborn, up Fleet-street and the Strand, but 
without seeing any carpenter's shop where they 
thought they might venture to ask for employ- 
ment. Then they tried the by-streets, and 
here, though they met with shops of a humbler 
description, they were unsuccessful at each. 
Nobody wanted boys, especially country boys^. 
and, tired out at last, they turned into a humble 
cookery shop and solaced themselves with a 
sixpenny plate of beef apiece and a pennyworth 
of pudding after it. They were so tired that they 
were glad to sit here some time after the meal 
was concluded, and then Tom suggested that they 
should sec what money they had between them. 

"There's Mr. Garland's guinea," he said, lay- 
ing it on the table; ''I expect we shall want 


that for something else than sight-seeing now ; 
and Mrs. General's five shillings, and the parson's 
two half-crowns ; and three shillings the master 
gave me the last morning. All Fd saved before, 
I'd spent in buying a book for Jack. Well, that's 
one pound fourteen. How much have you, Dick ?" 

" Just the three shillings the master gave me, 
and a guinea besides, thanks to old Quarle," re- 
plied Dick, showing his money. 

" Whatever made you take money from him T 
asked Tom, angrily. 

" Because you wouldn't," replied Dick ; " it's 
well one of us has got a little sense. Besides, 
what was I to do } The old man came to the 
shop the last afternoon while you had gone to 
see little Jack, and after giving me a long talking 
to about the folly of going to London, and the 
troubles we should be sure to meet with there, 
he ended by giving me this guinea, and telling 
me that as you were such an odd fish — I don't 
think those were just his words, though — it was 
no use offering money to you, but I was to keep 
it in case anything went wrong, and we should 
want a little money. And a very good thing I 
did, for now we've just got two pounds eighteen 
between us." 

"Then we shall have something to live on 
while we're waiting for work," said Tom ; " but 


wc must have lodgings. If you're rested, Dick, 
shall we go and see where we can find a 
room ?" 

" What do you think of calling on Mr. Gar- 
land V asked Dick ; " perhaps he could help us. 
I'm sure he ought after the way you helped 

'* It seems too much like asking payment for 
it," replied Tom ; " and it wasn't much to do, just 
shamming ghost for a minute. And he's not 
likely to know of any carpenters that want boys ; 
and if he were to take us into his office out of 
charity, I don't think we should do much good 
to him, or ourselves either, in it. No, I should 
like to call on him again to know if he's got his 
papers back, for he's a pleasant gentleman, but I 
don't want to go as a beggar." 

" Very well, then we wont go near him just 
yet," replied Dick ; " so I suppose, as it's getting 
late, wc must look out for a room. Fancy our 
being in furnished apartments to ourselves! 
Why, Tom, it's beginning housekeeping on our 
own account." 

" I wish we'd got Mrs. Wilkins to begin it for 
us," said Tom ; " but we must make the best of 
matters, and do as we can for ourselves. Here's 
a tidy-looking place with *A Room to Let' in the 
window. Suppose we try here V 


But they found the rent of the " Room to Let" 
so much above their expectations that they went 
elsewhere, and looked out for houses of a hum- 
bler description ; but even here the terms were 
more than their country inexperience had led them 
to expect. Six, seven, eight shillings a week for 
a small, sparely-furnished, dingy-looking room 
seemed to the boys a wilful throwing away of 
money, so they turned into yet more shabby- 
looking streets and applied at the doors of still 
humbler houses. At last they found a room, 
tolerably clean, at the top of a house which ap- 
peared all let out to different lodgers. It had a 
: sloping roof and a very small window, but the 
rent was only four shillings a week, and they re- 
solved to take this. But here an unexpected 
difficulty met them — they had no luggage, and 
who was to be responsible for their paying the 
rent. Tom was inclined to be angry at first, 
when the landlady plainly told them that lodgers 
without either luggage or references would not 
suit her ; it seemed such a natural thing to him 
that every one should be as convinced of his 
honesty as he was himself. Dick replied 
promptly, that their luggage was coming after 
them, but as the landlady did not know them 
they would pay a week's rent in advance, and if 
^he wanted a reference, Mr. Garland of Herschel- 


court, Gray's Inn, would, he had no doubt, give 
them one, showing her the gentleman's address 

as he spoke. This and the payment of the four 
shillings made matters go off pleasantly. The 
landlady was very anxious to let her room ; it 
had been a long time vacant ; and Dick and Tom 
were allowed at once to take possession of it 
They were so thoroughly tired that after laying 
in a supply for the next day's breakfast and 
making a slender supper, they undressed and 
threw themselves on the hard flock bed, where 
they slept soundly till the morning. 

The next day, directly after breakfast, they 
began again their weary quest for work. It was as 
unsuccessful as the day before, though they walked! 
from one end of London to the other, and even 
far out into the suburbs, thinking that perhaps 
there they might meet with some small jobbing 
master like Seth Wilkins. They reached at last 
the stone that marks the spot where Dick Whit- 
tington sat and rested when the bells told him to 
"turn again, turn again, thrice lord mayor of 
London." It was the country all around it then; 
green fields and hedges with here and there a hay- 
rick, or a cluster of cottages as rural as any to be 
found in Somersetshire. They sat down and 
rested by the stone. 

"I wish the bells would sound and tell us 


something," cried Dick ; " Tom, this don't seem 
quite the right way to get to be lord mayor." 

Tom sighed. If the bells had rung, he would 
not have cared for their telling him what they 
had told Mr. Osborne's apprentice ; something 
very much less than that would have fully con- 
tented Tom ; a little home for Jack and him to 
share together, and the wherewithal to keep it, 
that was all ; but it seemed further off than ever. 

They sat by the stone till the waning light 
told them it was time to return, and then wearily 
they walked back to their little close lodging, 
and went to sleep, wondering if the next day 
would bring them any better success. But it 
was day after day the same fruitless journeying; 
it seemed as if carpentering must be at a stand- 
still, or boys at an utter discount, for either they 
were told wherever they applied that business 
was bad, and they had no room for more hands, 
or else that boys like them were not worth 
having. And all this time, careful as they were, 
their money grew less and less, till Dick began 
to urge upon Tom the wisdom of either return- 
ing home or asking Mr. Garland if he could 
assist them. It seemed as if they must adopt 
the latter course at last ; and Tom agreed that 
if they did not find employment the next day, 
he would do so. But help came from a quarter 


whence it was least expected, for the very after- 
noon after Tom had come to the resolution of 
asking Mr. Garland if he could help them, their 
landlady told them that her brother, who lived a 
short distance from her, was in want of a boy 
to work in his trade ; he was a small jobbing 
carpenter, and as just now he was unusually 
busy, perhaps he could find employment for 
them both. Tom and Dick started off to see 
Mr. Webb ; they found him in a small dingy 
shop, and his own appearance was anything but 
prepossessing. He was a dirty, shabbily-dressed 
man, who, if his appearance did not belie him 
greatly, was much fonder of the public-house 
than it behoved a respectable man to be. He 
drove a hard bargain with the boys, pretended 
he had not work enough for both, and that if 
he had, it was not likely they would be of any 
service to him. 

" If you'll set us a job, and lend us some 
tools," said Tom, " well soon show you what we 
can do." 

Mr. Webb took Tom at his word. A kitchen 
table had been sent to him to mend, and it was 
anxiously expected back by its owner, who had 
entrusted it to Mr, Webb three weeks ago upon 
a promise that it should be returned in as many 
days, but though it only required a couple of 


hours' work, that exemplary tradesman had not 
yet touched it. He told the boys now to see 
what they could do with it, directed them where 
to find the requisite tools, and then sat by and 
smoked his pipe while they repaired ,the table. 
They did it in a manner that showed Mr. Webb 
they had been taught their business by one who 
understood it, and he condescended to say, 
** That considering they were boys, and country 
boys too, it wasn't so bad," and then he began 
to treat with them. 

" Five shillings a week apiece is as much as 
such boys as you are worth ; and if I take the 
two you ought to come for nine between you — 
and then I shall be out of pocket by it ; it*s 
really almost taking you for charity." 

But Tom and Dick knew better. They were 
perfectly aware that they had been worth a good 
■deal more than five shillings a week each to 
Seth Wilkins, and that they could work much 
too well at their trade for any one to employ 
them out of charity. So they began to bargain 
too, and the end of it was that Mr. Webb, who 
saw that they would be able to do a great deal 
which would leave him plenty of time to smoke 
his pipe, agreed to pay them jointly fifteen 
shillings, and they were to come the next morn- 
ing at six o'clock to begin work. Then Tom 


and Dick went away rejoicing, and treated them- 
selves to a savoury supper of sausages, and the 
next morning at ten minutes to six Mr. Webb 
was roused from his slumbers by his two new 
assistants knocking at the door. 





BHB OM and Dick knocked and waited for full 
SLn twenty minutes before the door was 
opened, which it was at last by a tall, thin, 
slatternly-looking woman, whom they found to 
be Mrs. Webb. She directed them to take down 
the shutters, and then, if they liked, they might 
sweep out the shop, and perhaps by that time 
Mr. Webb would be down and tell them what to 
do ; then she retired into the back part of the 
house, and began making preparations for break- 
fast in a kitchen that would have driven Mrs. 
Wilkins crazy with its dirt and untidiness ; and 
the boys set to work to do as she directed them, 
making a few comments as they did so upon the 
state of things at Mr. Webb's. 
" I expect we've got a different mistress to the 


one at home," said Dick. He and Tom always 
spoke of Bridgetown as home now. 

" And a different master, too," replied Tom. 
" Never mind, we'll do our duty by him just the 
same ; and I'll write home to little Jack to- 
night, and tell him we've got places. And on 
Sunday we'll put on our best things and go and 
see Mr. Garland." 

The boys were quite right. Their new em- 
ployer and his wife were very different people 
to Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins. Mr. Webb spent half 
his time either in the public-house or in smoking 
at home. And he never worked when he 
smoked, but sat with a mug of ale by his side, 
looking on at the boys and giving them his 
directions. Now and then he took a hammer or 
a chisel in his own hand, but whatever he did 
was performed in such a careless, listless way, 
so thoroughly half done in fact, that Tom, who 
had been brought up both on his father's farm and 
in Seth Wilkins's shop to do his work honestly 
and manfully, as work, of whatever kind it is, 
should be done, longed to take the tools from 
his hands and perform his master's work himself. 
But this was not the only annoyance to both 
Dick and him. Seth Wilkins was a just 
man, one who did his duty to his customers 
thoroughly, who would as soon have thought of 


picking their pockets as of scamping his work^ 
or using green unseasoned wood. No boy- 
apprenticed to him could well be other than an 
honest tradesman. But Mr. Webb used the 
worst and cheapest materials, and put in the 
most slovenly work, and, so long as the boys 
did their tasks quickly, would have liked them 
to do the same. But this was more than he 
could get them to do ; of course they were 
obliged to use such wood as he gave them, but 
they could not bring themselves to do their 
tasks in the manner he wished. "IVe never 
been taught," Tom told him, " to half do things, 
and I think, myself, the best way is the quickest 
in the long run." 

After a time, as Webb found they were much 
more diligent than any whom he had ever em- 
ployed before, and that they worked equally- 
well whether or not he was present to look after 
them, he let them have their own way, and 
found he was giving his customers more satis- 
faction than he had ever yet done ; by degrees 
they got him to buy better wood, for, as Tom 
said, it took the heart out of a fellow to put 
good work on "bad stuff," and though Mn 
Webb smoked and drank even more than ever, 
he found his trade improving, thanks to his 


As to Mrs. Webb, she was a woful contrast in 
every respect to Mrs. Wilkins. A slatternly, slip- 
shod woman, untidy in herself and her surround- 
ings ; always doing,"never done ; who never seemed 
to think it worth trying to make her husband's 
home more tempting than the public-house; 
fretful and complaining, and never able to fight 
against her little household cares and troubles. 
Tom and Dick thought sadly of their hopeful, 
helpful mistress at home whenever they looked 
at Mrs. Webb. 

There was one thing to be said — she had a 
swarm of small children, little creatures who 
infested the .shop, mislaid the tools, scratched 
themselves with the nails, and cut their fingers 
with the saw. Tom and Dick were both fond of 
children, but the little Webbs were too much 
for their patience. They were dirty-faced, cross, 
crying little things, for ever in the way, and the 
baby cried the most of all. As Mrs. Webb 
said, it was never out of arms — she certainly 
seemed always to have it in hers ; if she came, 
as she very often did, to have a gossip at the 
door, there was the everlasting baby, with its 
dirty nose and its perpetual cry, drowning every 
word she said, and making Tom and Dick sigh 
more than ever for the good time gone by when 
they were in Seth Wilkins's shop, which no child 


but little Jack had ever been permitted to in- 

At last the baby took a fancy to Tom. It 
would be good with him when so with no one else, 
so when he had a few minutes to spare he would 
take it from Mrs. Webb, and now and then stop 
after time to nurse the baby and play with the 
other children, while Dick, who, Mrs. Wilkins 
had often said, was almost as handy as a girl, 
would assist the poor shiftless woman in some 
of her household duties, till by degrees they be- 
came almost friends ; and sometimes when 
Webb was out late at the public-house, and the 
baby sitting still on Tom's lap, while the other 
children were watching him build houses of 
spare bits of wood from the shop, and Dick had 
tidied up the fireplace and made the room look 
comparatively comfortable, she would tell them 
of her early days before she married Webb and 
came to live in London, — days when she was a 
happy, merry girl, at home in her father's farm, 
and used to go a maying or a nutting with her 
schoolfellows. It was very strange, but more 
sad than strange, that the pale, fretful woman 
should ever have been a bright-faced rosy coun- 
try girl, and Tom and Dick grew to like her 
better when they knew of it, and were more 
ready than ever to help with the children, and. 


as Dick said, " there was nothing like making 
the best of things," so they made the best of 
Mrs. Webb. 

They had been to see Mr. Garland the first 
Sunday after entering on their new employ. 
They found him living in chambers in Gray's 
Inn, at that time of day a more usual thing for 
lawyers to do than it is now. He received them 
very kindly, told them he had been expecting 
them before, and asked how they had been get- 
ting on. They did not dwell too much upon their 
troubles, but contented themselves with telling 
him of Mr. Groom's death, and the change 
it had made in their own prospects, but added, 
that they were now both in work, and hoped to 
do well. 

Mr. Garland told them he had heard nothing 
as yet of the papers, though he had posted pla- 
cards all over London offering the reward. He 
had now put the matter in the hands of the Bow 
Street runners, and hoped they would be able to 
give him some intelligence. He thought of 
doubling — ^trebling the reward if necessary ; as, 
if the papers were not recovered, it might lead to 
his client losing some thousands. He looked 
very anxious and annoyed as he spoke, but 
brightened up presently, and made the boys par- 
take of wine and fruit. Then he bade them 



good-bye, as he was going out to dinner, telling 
them, to be sure and come again soon to see him, 
and if they were ia any difficulty to make no 
scruple about applying to him to help them out 

of It. 

Things went on as I have described at Mn 
Webb's for about six months, during which time 
Tom and Dick went rather often to Mr. Gar- 
land's, who was always glad to see them, but who 
had as yet heard nothing of his papers, though 
he had offered a reward of two hundred pounds 
for them. What a fortune this seemed to the 
boys, living as best they could upon sixteen 
shillings a week. Mr. Webb with great difficulty 
had been prevailed on to give them another 
shilling, but they found it no easy matter to- 
manage upon that. They were growing boys,, 
and ate a great deal, and their clothes wore out 
very fast ; so fast that after a time they began to 
feel rather ashamed of visiting Mr. Garland, or 
even of going to church. Provisions were very 
dear just then, and with all Dick's good manage- 
ment — and he had, for a boy, a wonderful turn 
for housekeeping — ^they found their present sordid 
fare a sad change from Mrs. Wilkins's table ; as> 
after they had paid for their lodgings, they had 
only twelve shillings a week remaining. They had 
writttn home several times, so that most people 


in Bridgetown knew how they were getting on ; 
for Mrs. General had Jack often to see her when 
he was at Mrs. Wilkins's, and then she learnt 
from him all he knew about his brother, besides 
which, she never passed Harry Swain without 
speaking to him, and asking if he had had any 
news of his friends ; and as Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. 
General both knew pretty well how far sixteen 
shillings a week would go when two boys had to 
provide themselves with everything out of it, 
they endeavoured, as far as they could, to eke 
out the slender pittance. Whenever Dobbs the 
waggoner came to town he brought something 
for them with him ; only that as the waggon was 
generally a week in coming it was not advisable 
to send anything by it of a very perishable na- 
ture. But Tom and Dick were well supplied 
with ham and bacon, and as the weather grew 
colder, Mrs. Wilkins forwarded them some warm 
knitted socks, and a hamper of apples, which 
were liberally shared with the little Webbs. 
Mrs. General spoke to the parson, and told hipi 
it was a great shame that a boy like Tom should 
be drudging for eight shillings a week, and told 
him too that it was his duty, as rector of the 
parish, to look after Tom's relations, and see that 
they did their duty by him. But the parson only 
laughed — " That's rather a hopeless ta.^VL^ \ss>j 



dear madam, and I think Tom is just as well 
where he is. A little roughing never does a boy 
any harm, and Tom will fight his own way in 
the world well enough." 

But when the parson got home he wrote a 
short letter, equally intended for Tom and Dick, 
but addressed to the former, in which he told 
them to let him know if they were in any 
difficulty and wanted a little help, and they 
should be sure to have it from him. ** I know 
I am safe in telling you this," he added. " You 
are not the lads to be scared at trifles, or 
to think that climbing up the hill is altogether 
smooth work, so I know you wont ask for assis- 
tance unless you need it ; but if you do, re- 
member, I shall be seriously angry unless you 
claim it." 

The parson prepaid the postage of his letter, 
and it pleased the boys very much. Not that they 
thought of applying to him, though Tom's toes 
were poking through his shoes, and Dick's jacket 
was out at elbows, but these were only trifles — 
not things to trouble the parson about ; but 
they were proud of his remembering and writing 
to them, and of his confidence, that though they 
might find up-hill work hard, still it was up-hill, 
after all ; and his trust, that though he told them 
to ask for help when they needed it, they would 


not do so but under a serious necessity. They 
took great care of this letter — I believe Tom has 
it yet ; and so they did of all that Mr. Dennes 
sent them — kind, gentle letters his always were, 
full of cautions and advice from Mr. Wilkins, and 
loving messages from his wife, and tender, earnest 
prayers from the old minister himself that the 
boys, so far away in the wide world, so left to 
their own guidance, might take heed to their 
ways, and never forget that though fatherless on 
earth, they were still watched over by their 
Father in heaven. 

So on the whole Tom and Dick were not 
much to be pitied, though their fare was scanty 
and their clothes threadbare. In after years 
they looked back lovingly enough to that old 
time in London, in the little attic with its hard 
bed, and its look-out over the chimney-pots of 
the neighbouring houses. 

One Sunday afternoon about the middle of 
November, they thought they would go and see 
Mr. Garland. It was a dull, foggy day ; and so 
the shabbiness of their attire would be less per- 
ceptible. Dick resolved to keep his great-coat 
on in the house, even if Mr. Garland asked 
him to take it off, that the state of his jacket 
might not be seen. Tom's boots were a trouble 
to them both ; there was a hole in the upper 


leather, just where the big toe protruded, but 
after considering a while Dick resolved to 
blacken the sock underneath, and then he thought 
Tom might pass muster. "And next week," he 
said, "we'll stop the coffee, and try toast-and- 
water instead, of a morning, made hot, with a 
little treacle in it, and see if we can't squeeze 
out enough by Saturday for a pair of boots for 
you, Tom ; we'll leave off cheese for supper too, 
and have roast apples instead — ^they'll be a deal 
more wholesome — so in another week we may be 
able to pay for mending my jacket ; and I think 
after Christmis we must speak to Webb about 
another rise." 

They found Mr. Garland at home, but looking 
careworn and annoyed. He brightened up a 
little when he saw them, and shook hands with 
them heartily ; then said, " I've heard about 
those papers at last." 

Tom and Dick were very pleased that he had, 
and told him so ; but Mr. Garland continued, 
**The rascals that have got them want to 
drive a tight bargain with me. See, here is a 
letter I received from them by last night's 

He produced a dirty, blotted piece of paper, 
with a thick, blurred scrawl running over it, and 
' banded it to the boys, who read — 


^' Respickted Sir, 

" It havin' cum to my nolledge that yiiVe 
-willin' to giv* a price for sum papers -wich wos 
took from you near Hounslo six months back, 
am agreeble to giv' you back the same knowin' 
the parties as has them, but you must raise the 
figger. 2 wont do, it must be 3 and 2 oughts. 
If agreeble to this, walk out on Monday, at 1 1 in 
the mornin',down the streat,with your umbereller 
in your left hand, and I will let you no where the 
papers may be found, wich shall be gLv' up to you 
as soon as you giv' up the flimsies. Should hav' 
rote sooner, but hav* been out of town sinse last 

" Yours obedent, 

'* None Knows Who." 

"There," said Mr. Garland, "what do you 
think of that, my boys ? I suppose the rascals 
have been out of the way since last May, or I 
should have heard from them sooner ; and so I 
may think myself very fortunate that if they were 
in hiding they did not destroy the papers. But 
it's a nice sum to pay for their recovery — ^three 
hundred pounds I I'm afraid I must give it 
them, though. I don't think I can do much else 
than walk down the street with jny ' umbereller* 
in my left hand to-morrow." 


" rd rather take a good stout cudgel to thrash 
the rascals with if I saw them," said Tom. 
" You'll know them again when you see them^ 
wont you, sir ?" 

" You don't think they'll give me the chance, 
do you, Tom ?" said Mr. Garland, laughing. " If 
I thought that, you may be sure I should have a 
couple of constables behind me. No, they'll 
take care to be near enough to see in which hand 
I carry my umbrella, but I shall not be able to 
catch a glimpse of them. I'm afraid there's 
nothing for it but to give the rascals their price ; 
it's a heavy pull, but I can't let my client lose a 
freehold estate worth " 

Mr. Garland stopped suddenly, and looked 
curiously at Tom, as if to see what he thought of 
his last words ; but Tom knew too little of either 
law or lawyers to understand how anybody could 
lose such an unmistakeable solid piece of property 
as a landed estate because somebody else had 
had some papers stolen from him. But Mr. 
Garland seemed not to care to talk of the subject 
any more, for he turned the conversation to 
something else, and rang for wine and cake for 
the boys, and soon after they took their leave. 

Dick and Tom were full of speculation as they 
went home as to whether or no Mr. Garland 
would walk down the street the next morning 


with his umbrella in his left hand, and what 
would next happen if he did. Three hundred 
pounds seemed such a preposterous price to pay 
for the recovery of a few papers ; and they puz- 
zled themselves with wondering how the thieves 
would contrive to see without being seen, whether 
or no Mr. Garland agreed to comply with their 
demands. They wished very much they could 
be in the street at eleven o'clock the next morn- 
ing, but that they knew to be out of the question. 
Mr. Webb was a very different person to Mr. 
Wilkins, and not a man to give even an hour's 
leisure if he could help it. But they resolved to 
go round the next Sunday, and inquire of Mr. 
Garland if he had obtained the papers, and felt 
that they must be content to wait till then. 

The next afternoon, when they came in from 
dinner, Mr. Webb informed them he had a job 
for them out of doors. " It's No. 2, Garden-street, 
near the Strand. The man's been round to say 
the wainscot at one part of the wall is broken 
away, and his landlord says he's bound to make 
it good. Deal will do ; paint it over to-morrow. 
It's been done with oak, but the folks that live in 
the house now ain't quite so nice in their notions 
as those that built it. Go off at once, for I ex- 
pect it will take you the rest of the day, both of 
you ; and I'll mind the shop." 



The boys put up the necessary materials and 
started off, glad of a little change from the work- 
shop, and pleased too that their task would em- 
ploy them together. They were soon at Carden- 
street, and knocking at the door of No. 2. 

" A queer-looking street, and a queer-looking 
house," said Dick, while they were waiting to be 
let in. 

Dick was right ; the street had ^ worn-out, 
shabby, dirty look, as if it had seen better days, 
and was now brooding over the remembrance of 
them. The houses were large but sadly dilapi- 
dated, and had evidently been built for a very 
different class to those who now inhabited them. 
In truth, Carden-street in the time of the second 
Charles, and as late as the second George, had 
been inhabited by wealthy noblemen and gentle- 
men about the Court, but each house was now let 
out to nearly a dozen different lodgers, whose 
children played in the streets and made mud pies 
in the gutters. There were two or three plates 
on every one of the house-doors, some of the 
upper windows were mended with paper, and in 
several of the lower ones bills were to be seen 
announcing that Miss Minkin took in dress- 
making, or Mr. Tatton mended boots. No. 2 
was the largest house in the street, and had 
originally been built by a bishop whose Jacobite 


tendencies nearly brought him into serious trouble 
in the time of George I. It was a house that in 
a country town would have had a hundred 
legends about it, and would certainly have 
been haunted by a couple of ghosts, if not 
more ; at least, it would have had the credit of 
being haunted, which, I think, for all practical 
purposes, is quite as good a thing. Tom and 
Dick thought of old Quarle as they stood outside 
this dismantled, decaying dwelling, and wondered 
whether any of its occupants in the least resem- 
bled him. 

The one who opened the door at any rate did 
not. He was a stout, elderly man, with a pleasant 
face and an apron, wearing no coat, and his shirt- 
sleeves being tucked up above his elbows. He was 
the master of the house, Mr. Green, whose name 
was on the door with " Printer " below it. He 
kept the lower rooms and the back attic for him- 
self, and had a large workshop at the rear of the 
house where he carried on his trade. He looked 
surprised when he saw the boys, each with his 
carpenter's basket, especially when Dick informed 
him they had come from Mr. Webb to mend the 

" I thought Mr. Webb would have come him- 
self," he replied; "what do such youngsters as 
you know of carpentering ?" 


"Quite enough for all we shall have to do 
here," replied Dick ; " you'll find we know our 
business better than you think for, master. Only 
show us the way, please, and let us begin at 

Mr. Green led the way up a wide broad stair- 
case, the balusters of which were of massive 
carved oak, and the landing-places as big as 
little rooms. On these landings different doors 
opened, and some of them were open, and the 
boys could hear the crying of children, the scold- 
ing of their mothers, and other sounds which 
showed that however much in some respects 
the decayed old mansion might resemble Quarle's 
habitation, it did not aspire to rival it in its 
stillness and seclusion. On they went — up, up, 
up, till they began to pant for breath, but Mr. 
Green still went forward, and never paused till 
he was at the very top of the house. This was a 
smaller landing than any below, and several 
doors opened on it, while a step-ladder led to 
a trap-door on the roof of the house. This door 
was partly open — Mr. Green generally kept it so, 
as he said it served as a ventilator and skylight 
to the rest of the dwelling. He opened the door 
of a large front room, saying, — 

" My lodgers are out, and wont be in till the 
evening. I suppose if you look sharp you'll get 


done by that time, for they don't much like 
having you here." 

He' pointed out the decaying wainscot to the 
boys, and then, leaving them, went downstairs to 
his workshop; while Dick and Tom began 
knocking away the decayed wood preparatory 
to replacing it with sound. The room was fur- 
nished with tolerable comfort, though everything 
in it was old-fashioned and plain. Mr. Green let 
this apartment furnished, having just enough 
household goods to enable him to do so aftefthis 
own requirements were satisfied. There was a 
bed in one corner, with faded hangings and coun- 
terpane, and on the round table near the fireplace, 
in which the fire was still burning, lay a couple 
of pipes and two empty pewter pots. Indeed 
the whole room smelled unpleasantly of beer 
and tobacco, so much so that Tom presently 
opened one of the windows to let a little fresh 
air in. When he had done so he looked round 
the room and observed — 

" Well, it ir a strange place — ^wainscoted up 
to the very ceiling. One don't often see upper 
rooms like that; and what a thickness this 
front wall must be. Why, it can't be less than 
three feet, Dick, between the inside of the room 
and the out" 

" What stupids they were not to make a cup- 


board in the thickness," said Dick, hammering 
away. " Now, Tom, look sharp, or we shan't 
be done before the lodgers come home. A nice 
sort they must be too, to judge by the pipes and 
the pots." 

Tom left the window, and began again to 
work, and with such diligence that before it grew 
dark they had completed the job. Then they 
packed up their tools neatly, and Tom began 
again to look about him. 

"Well, I don't think in any house but my 
lather's I ever did see such a thick wall, Dick ; 
and look at the carving round the top of it. 
Those flowers are famously done. Dick, I wish 
you and I could turn out something like that." 

" Wouldn't pay now-a-days," said the practical 
Dick. "It's out of fashion completely. But 
what donkeys they were to go wasting space like 
this, taking ever so much off the size of the 
room and not turning it to any account. What 
a capital cupboard for clothes they might have 
made here, Tom. It would have taken a few 
more than you and I have got to fill it." 

Dick tapped the wall as he spoke, with his 
knuckles. He started at the sound it gave, and 
taking the hammer out of his basket struck it 
several times, listening attentively. Then he 
turned to Tom, — "I'm positive it's hollow! — 


WeVe found something out — ^it's a secret cup- 
board. This house is a very old one, and I don't 
suppose any one here knows of this place* 
There's no knowing what we may find in it — a 
skeleton very likely — it's just the sort of house 
for half a dozen murders to have been done in, 
and this is just the right hiding place for them. 
I'm determined to get it open." 

" But I don't see what business you have to 
meddle with it," said Tom, looking quietly on> 
while Dick kept peering about the panelling, 
and inserting his chisel wherever he thought the 
opening of the secret door might be. 

" Well, I don't know that I have," replied Dick^ 
pursuing his self-imposed task diligently; "but 
we'll talk about that afterwards. Just come and 
help us, that's a good fellow. I'm persuaded this 
is where the' door opens. Look, this line runs 
straight up till it's lost in the carving, and my 
belief is continues underneath, and that all these 
flowers and fancies were only put to hide it." 

" I've read of such places," said Tom. 

" I've heard tell of them," replied Dick. "There 
was an old house my grandfather used to tell of 
— but we needn't mind about that now. I'm 
sure the door's giving. Now, Tom, what do you 
think we shall find inside ? — I say a skeleton." 

" Two, if you like," said Tom ; " but I don't 


think myself there'll be anything in it but dust 
and cobwebs. But you're right, it is a door, and 
was never meant for us to find out. Here it 
comes !" 

So the door did ; for it gave way to the united 
efforts of the boys' chisels, and slowly swung 
back ; but there was no skeleton inside — ^nothing 
but what Tom had said, dust and cobwebs. He 
looked a little disappointed himself at finding 
his words come true, and Dick was at first quite 
crestfallen. He recovered himself presently, 
however, and observed, "Well, I was right, it 
was a door, at any rate, and a secret cupboard. 
Now, Tom, what could this have been put here 
for } They never would have taken such pains 
to hide a place that was only meant to hold 
clothes or dirty linen— and it's such a size ! Why, 
we could both stand upright in it !" 

So they did ; and then they examined the 
cupboard still more carefully. There was no 
doubt that at one time or another it had been a 
hiding-place, for one of the bricks of the outer 
wall was perforated, so as to let in air ; then the 
door had a fastening inside, and Dick shut 
himself in, and found that the heads of two 
griffins carved on the outer panelling had been 
so judiciously carved that he could see and hear 
whatever took place in the room through the 


openings formed by each of their mouths. If the 
boys had been acquainted with the history of the 
old house, they would have known that the Ja- 
cobite bishop had had this cupboard constructed 
under his own direction, by a master carpenter 
sworn to secrecy, and that it had stood his lord- 
ship in good stead as a hiding-place for dangerous 
papers or for emissaries from the Pretender, when 
the house had been searched in vain to discover 
one or the other. 

Dick amused himself by talking to Tom through 
the griffins' mouths, and then let himself out 
Tom was about to go in, when he heard voices 
on the stairs — ^voices that he had only heard 
once before, but under such circumstances as 
prevented their being easily forgotten. Dick 
recognised them too. The boys started and 
looked at each other, and then, as if moved by 
one impulse, darted into the cupboard, snatching 
up their baskets and tools with them. They fas- 
tened the door, and then stood panting and 
breathless, listening to the voices that came nearer 
and nearer, and the possessors of which were soon 
in the room without. 

Presently Tom applied his eye to one griffin's 
head, Dick to the other. They were about a foot 
apart, so the distance was convenient, and the 
boys were convinced that the two men they now 



looked upon were the very same as the footpads 
of Hounslow Heath. They sat down by the fire, 
thrust some wood in to make it burn up better, 
and then clearing part of the table from the pots 
and pipes, one unlocked a small leather valise, 
and produced therefrom a parcel neatly tied up in 
brown paper. He flung it on the table, saying — 

" Who'd have thought when we robbed the old 
cove of these that they'd have been worth so 
much. To think of his marching down the street 
with his umbrella in his left hand. I didn't think 
he'd do it." 

" I did, somehow," replied the other. " Papers 
is worth a sight more sometimes than one reckons 
on. It's a pity, I think, we didn't make it four 
instead of three. He'd have given it just as easy." 

" Have a conscience — ^have a conscience — do," 
replied his friend, " even when you're dealing with 
a lawyer. But, I think, before we part with them 
we ought to see what they're about ; they may 
be worth more to other people than even to Mus- 
ter Garland." 

He untied the brown paper, and something 
that, if the boys had known a little more of legal 
matters, they would have recognised at once as a 
deed from some lawyer's office was spread upon 
the table. The thieves looked at it curiously. 
The stiff, legal writing appeared to puzzle them. 


and above all the opening words, written in black 

" Is it a will ?" asked Mr. Jephson, the elder of 
the two, who was not so good a scholar as his 
friend. " If it is, it may be worth a good deal 
more nor three hundred to the parties as wants 
to come into the property.*' 

" No ; I think it's something about 'prentices/' 
replied the other, who bore the name of Dogget, 
spelling the opening words with his forefinger. " It 
begins, ' This Indenture.* " 

"Oh, it can't be that," said Mr. Jephson. 
^* The old buffer wouldn't give three hundred just 
for indentures, when he could have any 'prentice 
bound to him three times over for the money. 
What's the names of the parties — can you make 
that out ?" 

" Well, I suppose these are them," replied his 
friend, going a little lower down the parchment ; 
" ' between Harly Preston, of — of — ' somewhere, 
* in the County of Somerset, gentleman, of the 
one part, and Jacob Quarle ;' why, hang it," and 
he struck his fist furiously on the table, " if we 
h^iven't come across that old beggar again !" 

" It's something that concerns him, is it ?" 
said Jephson. " I wish we'd looked at it before 
we let the old buffer in Gray's Inn know of it." 

^* There's no harm done," replied Dogget; 

T 2 


"and if we can't get more from the old Jew in 
Somerset — or Preston, whoever he may be — 
why, we know we're safe for three hundred from 
Garland ; so we'll keep the papers for a while at 
any rate, and see what we had better do with 

" Try if you can't spell out a bit more about 
them," said Mr. Jephson, taking up his pipe and 
beginning to smoke, while Mr. Dogget, proud 
of his superior scholarship, bent over the parch- 
ment, and, with his forefinger to help him, tried 
to read the lines. All this time the two boys 
had been listening attentively to what was going 
on. They were afraid to speak to each other, 
even in a whisper ; and though a glimmering of 
light came through the perforated bricks in the 
outer wall, it was not sufficient to allow them to 
see each other's faces. All they could do in 
these circumstances was to carry on a conversa- 
tion by nudges and pokes in each other's ribs — 
and most boys know that a good deal may be 
said by pokes and nudges, varied now and then 
by a pinch, when it is necessary to convey any- 
thing very emphatic ; and no words were ever 
yet invented that could convey all that can be 
expressed by a good firm hand grip, like the 
one with which Tom and Dick clenched the 


voiceless colloquy they had been carrying on in 
the dark. It meant something like this — 

Tom to Dick — "They're a pair of rascals, 
ain't they ?*' 

Dick to Tom — " Shouldn't I just like to serve 
them out !" 

Dick and Tom simultaneously — "/';« with 
you," and " Tm with yot^ ! Hurrah !" 

Such a quiet hurrah I only expressed by the 
grip of the fingers ; but it did the boys a great 
deal of good notwithstanding. Then Dick, who 
was the best vocalist of the two, opened his 
mouth and emitted a low, faint, unearthly moan, 
which in the waning light, and coming from the 
very centre of the wall, made Mr. Dogget and 
his friend start and look uneasily about them. 

" It's only the wind," said the former. " But 
it's getting plaguy dark. I can't see a word. 
I'll go below and fetch a candle." 

Mr. Jephson did not quite like being left alone, 
but he stirred the fire into a blaze, and puffed 
his pipe with redoubled vigour. Mr. Dogget 
went downstairs, and as soon as he was gone Dick 
thought it as well to send forth another moan. 

" Hang the wind I I can't stand this 1" cried 
Mr. Jephson, looking round uneasily. " Wind, 
indeed ! It seems to come right from the very 


middle of that wall. I wish Dogget would be 
quick back."' 

But Mr. D(^get was some time in coming. 
He had a difficulty in finding his candlestick^ 
which' Mrs. Green had taken down to clean, and 
then^ more difficulty in lighting the candle ; 
and he did not fancy coming up the long 
staircase alone in the dark ; and the time 
of his absence Dick improved by uttering 
moans that thrilled Mr. Jephson's heart to the 
very core. He was full of superstitious fancies 
and beliefs,, as bad men generally are, and the 
fright on Hounslow Heath had added to these 
feelings. He was half ashamed of them him- 
self, and sat fidgeting uncomfortably, becoming^ 
every moment more and more alarmed, till 
at last he burst out with "Dang it ! I can't 
stand this any longer. I'll go on the leads for 
a bit." 

He stepped out of the room, closing the door 
after him,, and ran up the step-ladder to the leads 
which served Mrs. Green and her lady lodgers as 
a drying ground. He stood by the door look- 
ing down to see that no one entered the room 
but Dogget, who reappeared presently bearing^ 
a lighted candle in his hand. Jephson was about 
to come down at once, but Mrs. Green detained 
him, with a request that he would help her dowiii 


with her basket of clean h'nen, and it would 
have been too ungallant of Mr. Jephson to refuse 
her request. Accordingly, he descended the step 
ladder first, and taking the basket from the lady 
carried it down to the landing, when she fol- 
lowed and took it herself, and he again entered 
his apartment. 

He found Mr. Dogget standing by the fire, 
looking round with an expression of blank dis- 
may on his face. He brightened up, however, 
when he saw his friend. "Oh, youVe there, 
arc you } What have you done with the 
paper ?" 

" The paper ! — what paper ?" And then Mr. 
Jephson looked on the table and saw that the 
precious parchment, which was worth three 
hundred pounds to himself and his friend, 
had gone! And he knew that since he left 
the room no one but Dogget had entered 
it. A cold sweat stood on his forehead, his 
knees shook, and he murmured, feebly, "It's 
gone !" 

"Yes, it's gone," said Dogget, "but what 
have you done with it ? And whatever did you 
leave the room for while I was away ?" 

" I — I — never lost sight of the door," said 

" Then youVe got it about you somewhere. 

28o TOM dunstone:s troubles. 

Come, hand it out. Tm not going to stand 
that. It's as much mine as yours, you know." 

" I — I — ^haven't got it," cried Jephson, trem- 
bling more than ever. 

" Then who has ?" cried Dogget, angrily. 
" Don't try that nonsense upon me. Ill throttle 
you but ril make you give it up." 

He sprang forward and seemed about to carry 
out his threat, when a groan from the centre of 
the wall struck on his ear and made him pause. 
'* What's that T* he cried, feeling a little alarmed 

" It — it — it's took the paper," groaned Jeph- 
son. " I got so scared with its noise I couldn't 
abide it more, and ran on to the leads. I'll take 
my oath I never lost sight of the door for a 
minute^ and left the 'denture, or whatsomever, 
it IS, on the table — and now it's gone — wko 
took it r 

" Steele's ghost !" was breathed from the wall 
in accents so awful that Dogget and Jephson 
both turned pale with fear, taking hold of each 
other as if to gather courage from the contact. 
^There — ^there — ^there can't be any one hiding?" 
gasped the former. 

" It's a solid wall," replied his friend ; " who 
could get into that r 

" Steele's ghost !" was breathed from the wall ; 


and crying out, " Til be shot if I stand this any 
longer !" Jephson rushed out of the room, and 
catching sight of some petticoats above, ran up 
the step-ladder and on to the leads, where two or 
three of the lodgers were doing as Mrs. Green 
had done, and taking in the clothes they had 
hung to dry. 

Mr. Dogget stopped behind for a second, but 
he did not feel brave enough to cope with the 
ghost alone, and he rushed up the step-ladder 
after his friend ; and while the two stood with 
pale faces and chattering teeth, listening to the 
questions poured upon them by the ladies on the 
leads, Dick softly opened the cupboard door and 
peered out. 

" They Ve gone," he said ; " and I think we 
had better go too. Is it all right, Tom ?" 

"Buttoned up safe inside my jacket," said 
Tom, setting his teeth. "They'll have some 
work to get it, I think, even if they do catch 

They slipped out of the room, taking care to 
shut the cupboard door behind them, and ran 
down the stairs quickly but as quietly as they 
could. Not so quietly, however, but that Mr. 
Dogget's sharp ears heard them, and calling on 
Jephson to follow, he sprang down the step- 
ladder on to the landing, and looked down the 


staircase. It was one of the kind called " well," 
and by the light which came from some of the 
lodgers' open doors he could see the figures of 
two boys bearing carpenter's baskets in their 
hands. One glance was enough ; he knew that 
the wainscot of the room he shared with Jephson 
was to have been mended, and he remembered 
having seen shavings about on his return home. 
Quick as lightning these thoughts flashed through 
his mind, and almost as quickly he tore down the 
staircase, with Jephson after him. Tom and Dick 
looked back and saw that they were pursued, 
and, what was more, that their pursuers were 
gaining on them. They knew nothing of the 
character of the house, it might be a den of thieves 
for aught they could tell, and even if they were 
amongst honest men, the thieves* story might be 
believed before their own, so on they ran, hoping 
to reach the street door before their pursuers ; 
but if it should be shut, they might be captured 
even while opening it. There was a window on 
the last flight of the staircase ; it was open, and 
Tom saw that it looked out on some leads, which 
were, in fact, the roof of Mr. Green's workshop, 
and right across the centre, dividing the leads in 
half and forming what many boys would have 
thought an insurmountable barrier, ran a high 
raised skylight, six feet wide and extending from 


one side of the leads to the other. No getting 
round, no running across, no footing for anything 
but a cat on that slippery, frail glass surface. 
Nothing for it but a jump, with the risk of falling 
through if you did not jump well — nothing for it 
but a jump, a bold one and a good, Tom and 
Dick saw, as they sprang out of the window. 
But over it they went, thanks to the practice 
they had had in the west country in clearing 
brooks and ditches, and were safely on the other 
side just as a grand clatter and smashing of glass, 
mixed with oaths and imprecations from the two 
thieves, told them that they had attempted to 
follow their example, and had come to grief 
accordingly. Down they went, almost on Mr. 
Green's head, just as he was setting up the type 
for a tradesman's bill ; but, luckily for him, he 
started back in time to save himself, crying^ 
" Bless me ! what's that ?" just as Dogget, and 
Jephson on the top of him, came toppling down 
on the printing-press. 

Tom and Dick got to the edge of the leads 
and drew breath ; then they looked down on the 
street below, and saw that it was all quiet and 
still — not a single person in it. The leads were 
only ten feet from the ground, a height they 
could very well drop, and they did so, and then 
ran all the way to Mr. Garland's residence^ 


anxious to ascertain at once if the parchment 
they had with such difficulty secured, was indeed 
the document whose loss had caused him such 
distress, and for the recovery of which he had 
offered so large a sum. 




R. GARLAND had just finished dinner 
when Tom and Dick arrived at his resi- 
dence, and was slowly sipping a glass of old port, 
which, with a Stilton in a fine state of blue- 
mould, formed his dessert. He looked surprised 
at seeing the boys, as they had never before been 
to visit him but of a Sunday, and with their 
flushed and not very clean faces, rough hair, and 
working clothes, they were in very different trim 
to that in which they usually appeared before 
him. They had got their baskets with them, but 
they had not got on their caps, these having 
tumbled off in their flight with the deed, and, 
as they were pretty good ones, Dick had been 
rather concerned at their loss when he had time 
to discover it, which was not till they stood at 
the door of Mr. Garland's house waiting for 


anxious to ascertain at once if the parchment 
they had with such difficulty secured, was indeed 
the document whose loss had caused him such 
distress, and for the recovery of which he had 
offered so large a sum. 


a good 

C2«a.«. . 

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DICK AXD »• « ^ -.f-.^ ^ 

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umx >^ 


M^r^.. - 


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dence, and «» ^m^^i^m^^ 

^^Hai«a)l yuo 

which, witjl i Sfi^ a «^^ 


mould, fomdui,^^! 

^^■lUA ttul >l 

at seeing Ok i>>,v^3H 

^^■yiM IliXl k/;)'t 

to visit kia itt tf »^^^9 


flushed and aa «* ^^ , 

^H ntoOiuO, nwl 

I^K, > Am >umu1>. 


HL: •>»« luu^ral 


^■n»w, Ui ((ivc llf fM 


^Ktjxa li ahti'u (rf t< 

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^^H ^^1 

Mm 0". *l'll" '" '«^ 




" Never mind," said Tom ; " I dare say if these 
are the right papers, he wont mind giving us new 
ones ; they wont cost him quite as much as the 
three hundred the thieves wanted from him." 

Then the door opened, and in another minute 
they stood before Mr. Garland ; and Tom, placing 
the document in his hand, said — 

" Is this what you lost on Hounslow Heath, 

sir r 

Mr. Garland took it eagerly, turned it over, 
opened it and examined it carefully. It was a 
large deed which had taken him some time to 
draw up, and his clerk some time to engross, but 
it did not appear to have suffered from the 
strange hands into which it had fallen ; and with 
a long-drawn breath of satisfaction he folded it 
up, and asked the boys how they had obtained 
possession of it ? That was soon told, and Mr. 
Garland listened with intense delight to the nar- 
rative Tom repeated, and rubbed his hands with 
glee when he heard of the smash of the glass 
caused by the thieves falling through the sky- 
light. Presently, however, he looked sharply at 
Tom, and asked him if he had read the deed ?" 

" I should be sorry to try,"' said Tom, laughing. 
" What little I heard those fellows say about it 
was quite enough to show that it wasn't in my 
line. It's queer too, sir, that there should be my 


uncle's name — Mr. Preston's I mean," added 
Tom, correcting himself, " and Mr. Quarle's 
mixed up in it. Somehow I'm always coming 
across that old fellow, and doing him a good 
turn without meaning it. Will it be any good to 
him, sir, Dick and I getting this deed from the 
rascals ?" 

" Possibly," replied Mr. Garland, shortly ; and 
then added to himself, "Knows nothing and 
suspects nothing — so much the better. Mr. 
Preston, Mr. Preston, if you'd done your duty 
by your nephew, you might have been the Squire 
of Prest-hope still. Well, well, I think when 
we come to a final settlement it is as well you 
should know how the deed was lost and how re- 
covered, in which case you may think that it 
would have been a better thing if you had kept 
Master Tom in Somersetshire." 

The old lawyer smiled at this reflection, and 
looked thoughtfully at the fire for a few seconds. 
Then he turned to the boys. 

" Well, my lads, how about the three hundred 
pounds I was going, as you know, to give those 
villains ? I suppose you'll expect a share of it 
for yourselves ?" 

**Wcll, yes, sir," replied Tom, with a little 
hesitation, Dick nudging him the while to keep 
him up to the mark. "You see, we lost our 



caps in jumping over the skylight, and we can't 
just yet afford to buy new ones. So if you 
wouldn't mind giving them to us we should be 
obliged. I don't think they'll be more than 
eighteenpence apiece." 

" So I'm to get my deed cheaply back it 
seems," said Mr. Garland. " Three shillings inr 
stead of three hundred pounds. But we can't 
quite settle matters in that way. You mustn't 
keep all the honesty in the world to yourselves, 
my boys, though you seem to have more than 
your fair share of it. You are certainly entitled 
at least to the two hundred I promised any one 
who would restore this document. The three 
hundred might be considered a little private 
arrangement between myself and the thieves, so 
perhaps we may justly put the reward at the 
lower figure. But I don't know that it will do 
for me to give two such boys so large a sum at 
once. You can't set up in business with it now 
— it would be absurd ; perhaps I had better in- 
vest it till you are both of age, and then give it 
to you with the accumulated interest — you 
might do something for yourselves then — or 
would it be better to send each of you to school 
for a couple of years .? I really hardly know," 
added Mr. Garland, looking quite bewildered, 
** what I had better do for you" — and he turned 


to Tom and Dick, as if asking them to help him 
out of his difficulty. 

" But we didn't do it for pay — it was for fun," 
said Dick. 

" And we wanted to serve the rascals out," 
added Tom ; " and there isn't much mistake 
about our having done that." 

"So we really don't want anything but the 
caps," said Dick ; " and we shall be quite satisfied 
with the money for those." 

" A great deal more than I shall," said Mr. Gar- 
land. " You ridiculous boys ! don't you see that 
I can't, as an honest man, remain under such an 
obligation, without making some return. Go in 
that corner by yourselves and talk things over, 
while I tell Mrs. Todgers to bring you some tea 
and toast." 

He rang the bell as he spoke and gave his 
directions, while Dick, whose face appeared 
illuminated by a sudden idea, turned to Tom, 
and in a low tone began pouring forth, as Mr. 
Garland fancied, /its notions of what would be a 
suitable recompense. Tom's face brightened up 
and flushed with a strange sudden joy as Dick 
spoke, and presently when the two came for- 
ward Mr. Garland saw that his mouth was 
quivering and his eyes full of tears. Dick this 
time was spokesman. 


" We have been thinking, sir," he said, " that 
— ^that — as you seem so uncomfortable about our 
not taking an)^hing for getting that paper back, 
there^s a way that might make matters pleasant 
to all parties, if — if — ^you liked it. Tom and I 
don't care to go to school again, and of course 
it's nonsense for us to think of setting up in 
business yet, but we thought that if it was all 
the same to you, perhaps you wouldn't mind 
sending little Jack instead. He's Tom's brother, 
sir, you know, and as I've none of my own, why 
Tom lets me go shares in him. And he's won- 
derful clever. Now, Tom and I ain't great at 
our books, but as to Jack ! — why, if he's put in 
the right way, I shouldn't wonder," said Dick, 
warming up as he spoke, " but he'll be an arch- 
bishop at the least, or even a lawyer like your- 
self, sir. And if the school might be some- 
where near, where Tom and I could go and see 
him of a Sunday, and take him out to church, 
and then home to a bit of dinner " 

And then Tom burst in with a great sob. 
*' Oh, sir ! you don't know what it would be to 
me to see little Jack every Sunday !" 

Here the tea and toast came in, as well as a 
savoury dish of ham and eggs ; and Mr. Gar- 
land bade the boys sit down and partake of the 


good things before them. He walked up and 
down the room once or twice, then coming up to 
Dick, placed his hand on his shoulder, saying, 
" I like your notion, if s a good one. I'll look 
out for a school at once. I think I know of a 
good one near Highgatc. We'll send little Jack 
there, and see what the young fellow can do for 
himself. Let him come up at Christmas to be 
with you a little time before he goes to school, 
and Mrs. Todgers here, who has had young folks 
of her own, will get him a rig out. He shall 
travel inside the coach. I will write to Mr. 
Dunstone, and settle all that. So now, my boys, 
get your tea, and don't affront Mrs. Todgers by 
not making a good one." 

No need to tell them that. How those boys 
ate and laughed, and almost cried, and talked 
of little Jack, and pictured his delight when he 
should read Tom's letter telling him he was to 
come up and live near him. They almost for- 
got Mr. Garland's presence, they were so in- 
tensely, thoroughly happy, and he sat and 
watched them, sipping his wine the while, with 
a calm, quiet satisfaction. But when they rose 
to go, he put five guineas in Tom's hand. 
'* You want the new caps, you know, and some 
few little things beside to make you smart enough 

U 2 


to take Master Jack out on Sundays. 1*11 
answer for Mrs. Todgers turning him out a 
dandy of the first water. There — ^there — ^that's 
enough — ^get your new clothes, and come next 
Sunday and let me see how you look in them.** 



BPffij S soon as Dick and Tom had gone, Mr. 
WHm Garland bethought himself of a duty he 
had to perform towards those worthy individuals 
Dogget and Jephson, and lost no time in 
despatching a couple of Bow-street runners to 
Garden-street in order to secure them. But the 
birds had flown, and Mr. Garland was disap- 
pointed in the hopes he had entertained of afford- 
ing them lodgings for awhile in Newgate, He 
had the pleasure of hearing, however, that they 
had suffered severely by their fall through the 
skylight, and that Mr. Green, their landlord, had 
insisted upon being recompensed for the damage 
they had inflicted on his property, declaring that 
if they did not reimburse him at once for every 
broken pane of glass, he would send for the con- 
stables and give them in charge for entering his 
workshop in such an illegal manner. The truth 


was, Mr. Green did not at all fancy his lodgers — 
they had only been in his house a week, but he 
had seen quite enough of them to be convinced 
that they were of a very different class to the 
hardworking folks who inhabited the rest of his 
house ; and he was therefore very peremptory 
in his demands, which Messieurs Dogget and 
Jephson thought it best to comply with, having 
no wish to b^ brought in contact with the con- 
stables. Having satisfied Mr. Green, they went 
upstairs, quietly packed up their property, and 
watching their opportunity slipped out of the 
house without thinking it necessary to acquaint 
Mr. Green or any one in it with their departure. 
A few days after this, little Jack received a 
letter enclosed in one to Ambrose Dunstone, ac- 
quainting him with the change in his prospects. 
The small one was delighted ; to go to school 
was a great thing ; Jack wished very much to be 
a scholar. But to go to school near Tom, and to 
spend his Christmas first with Dick and him, was 
a joy beyond Jack's wildest dreams. Ambrose 
Dunstone and his wife, now they were to lose the 
child, began to wish that the burthen which they 
had at first complained of had been imposed 
upon them a little longer. They were sorry to 
part with little Jack, after all. He had found a 
soft place in their hearts, and nestled himself 


there. Mrs. Wilkins, to whom Tom also wrote, 
acquainting her with the good news, was very 
much pleased to hear that Jack was to be well 
provided for. She said he must come and stop 
a week with her, however, before he went to 
London ; and accordingly, ten days before Christ- 
mas, Jack was brought to Bridgetown by Am- 
brose Dunstone, who had occasion to go there at 
that time, and remained with Mrs. Wilkins. He 
had a good time of it while at Bridgetown. 
Every one had heard that little Jack Dunstone 
was going to a grand London boarding-school ; 
but they made things rather different to what 
they really were, saying that Tom had got on so 
well that he was making his fortune fast, and his 
sending Jack to school was a sure sign of it. 
Tom had all the credit of paying for his brother's 
education, and Jack's departure from Bridgetown 
was a perfect ovation. Mrs. General came to 
see him off, so did Mrs. Wilkins, Harry Swain, 
and a number of other boys. Jack was loaded 
with good things. Mrs. General sent a hamper 
to Tom, with some of her own ginger wine in it, 
a large pot of jam, a plum-cake, and some mince 
pies. Mrs. Wilkins sent the boys a plum-pudding, 
all ready made and boiled, and wanting only 
warming up for Christmas-day, and a leg of pork 
from one of her own pigs — Seth Wilkins was 


now quite a farmer on a small scale, though he 
was constantly complaining of the loss his pigs 
and poultry were to him — and Harry Swain's 
mother forwarded a basket of apples and pears 
from her own garden. On the whole, not a tra- 
veller in the coach had so much luggage as little 
Jack ; and as he did not like that more than he 
could help should be put away where he could 
not see it, he sat with his feet perched up on one 
hamper, a large basket on his lap, and a very 
small bag containing all his wardrobe by his side. 
His great-coat was certainly warm, bu\ of a very 
peculiar description, Mrs. Ambrose havjng con- 
trived it at the beginning of the winter c^wit of an 
old cloak of her own ; and as she wished it to 
last Jack for some years, and to give him plenty 
of room to grow in, she had made it so long that 
Jack could scarcely walk a step without treading 
on the skirts, while the sleeves quite fell over his^ 
fingers, and made it necessary for him to tuck 
them up whenever he had to use his hands. His 
cap was so small that it was constantly falling 
off, so Mrs. Wilkins had tied it on with an old 
yellow silk handkerchief of her husband's, which 
came over his ears and under his chin, where the 
ends were tucked inside a scarlet comforter of 
her own knitting, and Jack's little round face, 
with its bright eyes and small nose, just tipped 


with red this frosty morning, beamed above the 
comforter and between the handkerchief with an 
intense delight and happiness that did one good 
to behold. He smiled and nodded at every one, 
and laughed aloud when the coach started off 
amidst the hurrahs of the boys, the good-bye of 
Mr. Wilkins, the waving of Mrs. General's hand- 
kerchief, and the low " God bless you, my child !" 
from Mrs. Wilkins. He might have felt sorry at 
parting with them all, but how could he when he 
was going to see Tom } — Tom who had sent for 
him, and was going to put him to school, where 
he should learn everything, and would come and 
see him and take him out every Sunday — Tom, 
wonderful, good, clever, brave Tom, the best big 
brother that ever small boy had ! 

Things were not going quite so well with some 
of the people Jack left behind him as they could 
have wished. Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Jefferies 
both considered they had great reason to be dis- 
satisfied with their brother the Squire. He had 
n9 children of his own, and positively refused to 
do anything for theirs, which they thought was 
exceedingly unjust and unkind of him. There 
WAS a school some miles off, to which at that 
time it was considered the correct thing for young 
gentlemen in the position of Gussy and Fred to 
be sent, at least for a year or two, to finish their 


education, it standing in the same relation to the 
sons of the country doctors and lawyers that Eton 
and Harrow did to the young squirearchy. But it 
was expensive, and Mr. Preston's sisters thought 
that he ought to contribute to the expense. They 
had been for some time urging and begging of 
him to do so, but with no other effect than that 
of keeping him away from their houses, and his 
telling them that they need not come to his if they 
only did so as beggars. And the Squire seemed 
to have his own troubles. He was more gloomy 
and silent than ever ; his poor gentle wife's awe 
of him redoubled, and even his sisters were be- 
ginning to feel a little afraid of him. Indeed, 
lately they had thought it best to desist from 
urging him about the school, and contented them- 
selves with grumbling confidentially to .one 
another. But when little Jack was borne* off in 
triumph by the mail to a school, the importance, 
expensiveness, and gentility of which was mag- 
nified by the town report to something far beyond 
that of the establishment to which the two ladies 
vainly sighed to send their sons, they felt that the 
last drop of bitterness was added to the cup 
which their brother's niggardliness compelled 
them to drink. 

As to Jack he never had such a Christmas in 
his life. On arriving at London the coach was 


met by Dick and Tom ; and Jack, springing into 
the arms of the latter, was kissed and hugged, and 
hugged and kissed back again, till it seemed as 
if the two brothers could never bear to part again. 
Then Dick came in for his share, and at last the 
three boys went off to their lodgings, where Dick 
soon prepared a glorious supper of pork-chops 
for them. 

The next evening they went round to Mr. Gar- 
land's, and here Jack was formally introduced to 
Mrs. Todgers, who lifted up hands and eyes at his 
appearance in his great-coat, but willingly un- 
dertook the task of renewing his habiliments, if 
he were brought round the next day. This Tom 
promised to do at his dinner-hour ; and accord- 
ingly a little after two Jack and Mrs. Todgers 
started on their shopping round ; and as the 
things were all bought ready-made. Jack's ap- 
pearance when Tom and Dick came to fetch him 
after work surprised them not a little. The next 
evening Mr. Garland took them all to the play, 
and they saw something which none of those boys 
ever forgot — Mrs. Siddons as Queen Catherine. 
Mr. Garland was a regular play-goer, liked his 
tragedy and his farce, though he did not care 
much for the pantomimes, and would have 
thought it a sheer waste of money to leave five 
minutes before the performance was over. Just 


the sort of person to take boys to the play, one 
who knew the actors well and their best points, 
who took a good supply of oranges in his pocket, 
and was sure to be in capital time to secure front 
places in the pit. After Christmas they went, in 
company with Mrs.Todgers,to see the pantomime, 
and they had a whole day*s sight-seeing before 
Jack left for school, when they visited the Tower, 
Mrs. Salmon's waxwork, and the menagerie at 
Exeter Change, and went home to tea with Mrs. 
Todgers, who was becoming quite fond of Jack, 
and promised to make him a large plum-cake to 
take with him to school. Their Christmas- 
day they spent at home, Mr. Garland dining with 
some old friends, and Mrs. Todgers visiting her 
son. But they baked their beef over some pota- 
toes — Mr. Garland had sent them a sirloin, and 
they warmed up the plum-pudding and mince 
pies, and talked over friends at Bridgetown as 
they sipped the ginger wine which came from 
Mrs. General. 

A fortnight after Christmas Jack went to school, 
and every Sunday morning Dick and Tom went 
to fetch him, and take him to one church or 
another ; then they dined, and afterwards took a 
walk and went to tea with Mrs. Todgers. So 
matters went on pleasantly enough till the days 
began to lengthen, and in London streets the cry 


of " Primroses all a blowing " was heard. Tom 
bought some primroses for his window, and some 
more for poor Mrs. Webb ; and one fine Sunday 
Dick and he took Jack up to Highgate church, 
and had a long stroll afterwards, coming home 
to a cold meat-pie which Dick had manufactured 
the preceding evening. Indeed Dick was a won- 
derful cook ; he prepared such capital little din- 
ners at so small an expense that the boys, now 
Mr. Webb had raised their wages two shillings a 
week, began to fare quite sumptuously. 

One day about this time, Tom was rather 
surprised at receiving a message from Mr. Gar- 
land, asking him to come to his house as soon as 
he had finished work. " What can it be for ?" 
thought Tom ; " surely nothing can be amiss 
with little Jack, and Mr. Garland's sent to tell me 

of it r 

Without waiting to tidy himself he hurried off 
at once, and on arriving at Mr. Garland's resi- 
dence was shown, to his surprise, not as usual 
into the dining-room at the back of the house, 
but into the office, which was in the front. Here 
he found Mr. Garland sitting at his writing-table, 
and a little distance from him, in the darkest 
corner — the light was beginning to fade — a figure 
of an old sordidly-dressed man, bending forward 
with his hands upon his stick and his chin resting 



upon them. " Was it ? — could it be old Quarle ? 
— what did he do here ? — and how was it that he, 
Tom, was always running against him ?" Mr. 
Garland soon satisfied him as to the identity of 
his visitor by saying — 

" This is Tom Dunstone, Mr. Quarle." 

" Yes— ^yes, I know him," said the old man. 
" A year has made a change, but not so great a 
one that I should be mistaken in him. It would 
take a great many years to do that, I think." 

Tom looked again at Quarle. He seemed 
more bent and shrivelled than ever. Was it the 
waning light that made him think so, or had the 
old man really aged so much in the past year, 
that had only made him, Tom, stronger and 
stouter and sturdier than ever } 

Quarle continued — 

" Well, Tom, I'm your debtor again, it seems. 
Mr. Garland has been telling me that if it had 
not been for you I might have been some thou- 
sand pounds the poorer, or have waited for my 
rights till I was in my grave. It*s a strange 
thing, Tom, but you're always helping me one 
way or the other." 

" I'm sure it's not that I want to do it," said 
Tom, bluntly ; " but it seems as if one couldn't 
help it somehow." 

"Mr. Garland says," continued Quarle, "that 


you would take nothing for yourself as a reward 
for the restoration of the deed " 

" Oh yes, I did," replied Tom ; " Dick and I 
have a new suit each with the money he made 
us take ; and then there's little Jack's schooling, 
Mr. Garland pays for that. I'm sure if it was a 
good thing Dick and I got those papers back for 
you, it has been a much better one for us. Jack 
is getting on famously ; I should just like you to 
see his writing." 

*< Yes — yes, that's all very well," said Quarle. 
"Mr. Garland has done his part, for it would have 
been a very serious thing for him as well as for 
me if this document had not been restored ; but 
— but I think I ought to make you some return, 
Tom, for this last service you have rendered 

"Don't see that I deserve it," replied Tom. 
" It was not done out of kindness to you, sir, not 
so much even as when I got the dog out of the 
well. There he is, poor fellow ! — Shock, old boy, 
don't you know me T 

It seemed as if Shock did, for he came up 
to Tom, rubbed his coat, which was almost as 
shabby a one as his master's, against Tom's legs, 
and licked his hand. 

" No, Tom, I suppose it was not," said Quarle, 
sadly ; " and it will be no use asking you to take 

t I 


an)^hing in the way of money for what you hav 
done. But I think there's one thing you migl 
accept even from me." 

And with a strange, almost pitiful, humilit; 
the old man took a piece of paper out of his well 
worn pocket-book, and offered it to Tom, wh< 
glanced over the writing, flushed — ^turned pale- 
trembled — and then said — 

" I think ; yes, I do think, sir, that FU take this 
I have done something for it. It's a good begin 
ning. There's one cleared off at any rate." 

The paper was a discharge in full of the debl 
and interest due from the late Reuben Dunstone 
yeoman, of Boreham, to Jacob Quarle of Bridge- 
town, in consideration of certain valuable servicef 
rendered by Thomas Dunstone to the aforesaid 
Jacob Quarle. 

" Yes, Tom, there's one cleared off," said Mr 
Garland ; " and let me tell you the services yot 
have rendered to Mr. Quarle from time to time 
fully entitle you to this reward. You have fairly 
earned the right to say that you have discharged 
one debt of your father's." 

" With Dick's help," said Tom, like an honest 
fellow as he was. 

" Well, yes, in this last transaction ; but re- 
member, it is by no means the only one in which 
you have benefited Mr. Quarle without Dick's 


assistance, or almost in spite of him. Dick is a 
good lad, and has told me the whole story of his 
prejudices against Mr. Quarle, and the manful 
way in which you combated them. And now, 
good-bye, my lad, we wont keep you any longer, 
as Mr. Quarle and I have still some business to 

Tom went home and showed Dick his precious 
paper, which, in spite of what Mr. Garland had 
said, he thought he owed almost as much to his 
friend as himself. But Dick would not allow 
that at all. " I should have left the old fellow's 
dog in the well till now," he said ; " and when he 
was ill, I never could have gone into the house 
alone to look after him. And as to this deed 
we got back from the thieves, if you hadn't scared 
them away from Mr. Garland by shamming 
ghost, he'd never have lived to have told us he'd 
lost it. Another five minutes, and they'd have 
settled him. No, Tom, it's all your doing — 
clearing off this debt of your father's. You've 
paid it yourself, every penny of it." 

So Tom laid down his head on his pillow that 
night with a deep calm sense of thankfulness 
that so far he had cleared his father's name. 
One debt at least was rubbed off; with God's 
blessing every one of the others should be paid 




The next morning Dick and he had a letter 
from the mistress, which gave them something to 
think and talk of all day. She told them Mr. 
Quarle had left his house, and gone, it was 
thought, to London; Squire Preston seemed 
getting wprse than ever, the last time he came 
to the town he looked so ill and altered that she 
scarcely knew him, and strange stories, but these 
might be only gossip, were spread about him. 
Some said that he had been speculating, and lost 
a great deal of money ; others, that he had for 
years been living beyond his income ; but the 
Squire was a careful man, and his wife had 
brought him money, so that though ever3^ing 
had been in very good style, still she thought he 
could not have been spending more than he 
ought. However that might be, there were no 
horses kept now at Preston-hope but the Squire's 
own roadster, and two of the servants had been 
sent away. It was said, too, that he talked of 
coming to London, so very likely Tom would 
run against him, and then he would see for 
himself how changed and altered his uncle 

" Why don't she say the Squire r said Tom, 
crossly ; " he's no uncle of mine. I suppose he's 
been doing as my poor father did, — ^sinking 
money in his land that he'll never get back 


again. Who knows, the Squire may be as badly 
off as tie was, one day." 

" Worse, perhaps," said Dick ; " for he*ll leave 
no son behind him to pay his debts. I wonder 
if he owes money to old Quarle." 

Dick's guess was pretty near the truth. Mr. 
Preston was very deeply indeed in debt to Quarle, 
having borrowed money on the security of his 
estate, and the time for repayment had fallen 
only a week after Mr. Garland had been robbed 
on Hounslow Heath of the mortgage deed. He 
had been obliged to write at once to his client 
stating the loss, and as it was not easy to fore- 
close the mortgage while the deed was missing, 
Mr. Preston had had a few months* grace given 
him. But as soon as Mr. Quarle learned that 
the mortgage deed was safe, he sent peremptory 
instructions to Mr. Garland to insist upon Mr- 
Preston either repaying the loan at once or sur- 
rendering his estate, every acre of which, along 
with the dwelling-house, had been pledged for 
years. Mr. Preston had indeed been doing much 
as Tom*s father had done, endeavouring to im- 
prove his lands in the hope that after awhile they 
would repay him tenfold. He had been trying 
to obtain money on the strength of his wife's in- 
come, but it was not easy to do so, as it was 
settled on herself, and the poor lady was unable 

X 2 


to help him, although she would gladly have 
parted with every penny to have pleased him ; 
but she could give him no more than the interest 
of the money belonging to her, as the principal 
was tied up beyond even her own control. But 
the Squire in his desperation thought that some- 
thing might be done for him in his need if his 
wife's trustees could only be prevailed on to let 
her have the control of her own property, so he 
had resolved to come to London, see them, 
explain matters, and try if they would not per- 
mit his wife to assist him, when they learned 
how needful it was, even for her own sake, that 
she should do so. This was the object of his 
intended journey to London, and it was to bring 
matters to a crisis, and suffer Mr. Garland to 
waste no time in delays, that Quarle had come 
to London. 

The old man was as pitiless to Tom*s uncle 
as he had been to his father. Mr. Garland ven- 
tured to remonstrate, but it was useless. Quarle 
was bent, if possible, upon having the estate, 
and all the delays which Mr. Preston had re- 
course to chafed him terribly. He did not want 
the money, he told Mr. Garland, but he did want 
the estate, and he was angry with that gentle- 
man whenever he pleaded in Mr. Preston's be- 
half, and pestered him day after day to know 


how things were going on, and whether the law 
for once could not be induced to move a little 
faster, and let him come into his own. He 
seemed possessed with a nervous dread lest by 
any means the Squire should obtain the money 
even at the eleventh hour, and prevent his enter- 
ing on the estate. 

This was the state of things when one even- 
ing, just as Dick and Tom were going home, 
Mr. Webb informed them that they must go out 
of town for a job to-morrow. It was an old 
acquaintance of his, the master of the Bell, near 
Hounslow, who wanted him to do some house 
repairs for him. They were nothing more than 
the two boys could undertake, simple, straight- 
forward work enough, and he might run down 
one day himself and see after them. Slight, the 
master of the Bell, had come to town that day 
and informed him that he meant to give him the 
job, as there was not a carpenter near who could 
be trusted in an inn. " Drunken rascals, every 
one of them," said Mr. Webb, who was half 
tipsy himself, having been amusing himself the 
whole afternoon with his acquaintance in the par- 
lour of a public-house hard by. " Can't be trusted 
to work in an inn, and know nothing of their 
business if they could. That's why Slight wants 
me to undertake it — he knows what I am ; yes — 


yes — Slight knows me — knows me about as well 
as you do, boys." 

Tom and Dick thought that if that was true, 
it did not reflect much credit on Mr. Slight's 
judgment that he should have selected Mr. 
Webb to do his work. But however, they were 
very glad of the chance of going in the country, 
and as they were to lodge at the inn, their own 
housekeeping would be somewhat lightened, 
and they should have a pleasant change from the 
dull, dirty workshop and the close London streets. 
Mr. Slight was to return to Hounslow the 
next day, and would call for the boys at Mr. 
Webb's before nine the next morning. Tom 
and Dick remembered him well enough when 
they saw him. He was a short, stout, rosy-faced 
man, looking every inch an innkeeper. He 
drove a capital horse, and as he was very chatty 
and good-humoured, the boys enjoyed the drive 
through the fresh country air very much. They 
reached the Bell about half-past ten, and then 
began work at once. They found what they 
were required to do was to mend the flooring in 
several of the rooms ; replace some of the 
balusters that had broken away ; and fit up a 
cupboard or two with shelves, for all of which 
they had brought plenty of material with them. 
ikThey were easy jobs, and the boys had no 


fear but that they should be able to manage 
them very well without Mr. Webb's superinten- 
dence. " Much better without than with," said 
Dick ; " and I only hope he'll have the sense to 
keep away and let us get on by ourselves." 

When work was over for the day, they ran 
out down the green lanes near the Bell. The 
light was waning, but there was still sufficient 
for them to see the tender greenness of the 
budding hedges, and to rejoice in the clear, soft 
light of the sky. They found some primroses, 
too — ^what old friends the simple flowers were, 
and they heard the birds twittering their evening 
song — it was altogether such a treat as they 
had not had since they left Bridgetown, and 
they enjoyed it in a manner that they would 
never have done had it not been for living in 
London, which had taught them more than 
anything else could how to appreciate the 

They were kindly treated by the mistress of 
the iiln — a comfortable woman, with three small 
children of her own. She gave them a snug 
little room to sleep in, and they had every reason 
to be satisfied with the fare provided for them. 

It will spoil us for going home," said Dick. 

Our money will never reach to bacon for break- 
fast, and hot roasts and pudding for dinner. 


Never mind, let's make the best of it while 
we've got it, and hope that we shall get some 
more such jobs as this before the summer s out." 

Two days after their arrival at the Bell, they 
began working in the tap-room. Here they 
found they had a great deal to do, a long piece 
of the flooring at the furthest end from the fire- 
place being quite wormeaten and rotten. There 
was no other place in the inn that could be used 
as a tap-room, so the few labourers who dropped 
in in the course of the day, drank their beer and 
watched the boys at their work, submitting with 
a tolerable grace to their own boisterous talk 
being drowned in the noise of the saw and the 
hammer. About four o'clock in the afternoon 
Mrs. Slight came into the tap-room looking 
vexed and annoyed. There ^s no one in it 
now but Tom and Dick, and when she observed 
this, she appeared still more disconcerted. 

" I thought I might have found some one here 
who could see to a horse," she said. " Slight's 
out, and John Ostler has been and got dead 
drunk, and a gentleman's just rode up and wants 
his horse seen to while he has some dinner. He's 
gone into the parlour now, and Betty's holding 
the horse ; but however will she be able to rub 
it down or givQ it its food } and there's no one 
here to do as much for me." 


**0h yes, there is/' said Dick, cheerfully. 
" Tom and I understand horses quite as well as 
your John Ostler. We'll go and see to him 

"Are you sure you do?" said Mrs. Slight, 

Tom laughed. " My father kept six horses 
in his stables, missus, and I rode on them bare- 
backed almost before I could walk ; don't be 
afraid. Your customer must be hard to please 
if he finds much fault with either our grooming 
or feeding his horse." 

Mrs. Slight felt reassured, and telling the 
boys where they would find the horse and fodder 
and corn for him, went to see what dinner she 
could most quickly send in, the gentleman 
having urged her to be quick, as he wished to 
reach London that night. Betty was very glad 
to be released from the horse, and ran in to help 
her mistress, telling the boys that they would 
find John Ostler stretched in the stable, drunk, 
and that when they had seen to the horse, if 
they had a pail of water to spare, they had 
better bestow it upon him. " That'll sober him, 
perhaps," she said ; " a nasty, dirty, tipsy 
brute. I hope you wont leave a dry thread 
on him." 

Then she flounced into the house, and the 


boys led the horse into the stable. He was tall, 
strong, black, and evidently capable of doing a 
good day's work. But he seemed to have had 
rather more put upon him the last; day or two 
than he was capable of performing, appearing 
quite tired out. Tom looked at him curiously. 
** I never saw a horse so like Squire Preston's 
black that he always rode, in my life. Did you, 
Dick ?" 

" Well, he is like," said Dick. " I remember 
the old fellow well. He was the best horse in 
our part. I often wished Fd the riding of him 
instead of the Squire. But this can't be him, 
you know. What should Squire Preston do in 
this part of the world ?" 

" Mrs. Wilkins said he was coming to Lon- 
don," said Tom, " and as likely as not he'd ride 
instead of going by coach. Why, he went to 
Exeter one day on Wallack, and came back the 
next — fifty miles each way, you know — but 
Wallack looked none the worse for it the day 
after he came back. If this is him, he's got a 
scar on his left leg ; he stumbled once and cut 
himself He never went any the worse for it, 
but the mark wouldn't go. It's hereabouts, if 
it's here at all. Yes ! — ^this is Wallack, sure 
enough." And Tom pointed out to Dick a small 
scar half hidden by the hair on the horse's leg, 


three inches above the foot. " I remember when 
he did it. Wallack, old fellow, who would have 
thought of seeing you .?" 

Tom stroked and caressed the horse ; he was 
very fond of animals, and it was not Wallack's 
fault that he belonged to Squire Preston. Then 
he Iffd him to the stable, where Dick and he at- 
tended to his wants ; then they left him, Tom 
observing, " It's to be hoped his master don't 
mean to go any further to-night ; Wallack's 
pretty nigh done up." 

They went back to the tap-room with the in- 
tention of continuing their work, but on arriv- 
ing there they found two men sitting by the fire 
smoking and drinking beer. Their hats were 
pulled over their faces, and the collars of their 
coats drawn up, and even if the boys had been 
curious enough to want to see more of them, it 
would not have been easy to do so, as they sat 
with their backs to the door. But Tom and Dick 
had something else to do than to stare at strangers, 
so without giving the men another thought, they 
went on with their work, over which they did not 
make the noise they had done in the earlier part 
of the day, as they were now fixing the wood in 
its place, consequently they could hear all that 
the men said if they chose to talk, which they 
soon did, and the first observation which one of 


them made, though a very simple one, nearly 
caused Tom to drop the wood he was holding 
from his hand. He recognised the voice, and so 
did Dick, and the two boys glanced furtively at 
each other, and tried to look, without being ob- 
served, at the two men, who continued their con- 
versation, which, if the oaths with which it was 
interlarded had been left out, would have been 
harmless enough, as it principally turned on 
the merits of the beer and tobacco which 
they were consuming. There was no doubt of 
it — ^the strangers were Dogget and Jephson, 
and Tom felt that it would be very desirable for 
the parish constables to be acquainted with the 
character of Mr. Slight's guests. The best thing, 
of course, seemed to be to tell Mr. Slight first, 
but then he was out, and it hardly seemed a fit 
matter to trouble Mrs. Slight with. While Tom 
was hesitating he heard the landlord's voice, and 
glancing at Dick, said — 

" There's the master come home ; let's go and 
ask him if it isn't time we left off work." 

The two thieves glanced sharply at them as 
they passed. Their last recollections of carpen- 
ter's boys were not pleasant ones, but then they 
had not seen the faces of the lads who had out- 
witted them, and it was not very likely that these 
would be the same, so they drew closer to the 


fire and made use of the opportunity afforded 
them of being alone by talking quietly together 
over the best way of turning the coming night to 
profitable account. 

Meanwhile Tom and Dick found Mr. Slight, 
and acquainted him with the character of the 
men in his tap-room. But the landlord was not 
disposed to take any active measures in the 
matter. He liked to have a quiet house, and, as 
he sometimes said, " It took all sorts of customers 
to keep a public going," and if two gentlemen of 
the road were captured in his house, it might 
entail unpleasant consequences on himself, besides 
keeping customers away, who if they might not 
be of the highest character, at any rate drank 
freely and paid well for all they had. So he 
contented himself with telling the boys he 
thought they must be mistaken ; rascals like 
that would never come to his house : and then 
going to the tap-room, gave the men a broad 
hint that he should be more glad of their room 
than their company. Dogget and Jephson were 
not slow in taking it, and five minutes after, when 
Tom and Dick went to the side door, they saw 
them slinking off. They ran to the landlord 
and indignantly told him that the thieves had 

"And a good thing too if they have," said 


Mr. Slight. " 'Tisn't likely they're what you take 
them to be ; and a pretty thing it would be for 
my house for the constables to come here hauling 
honest men off to the lock-up. And if you are 
right," he added, lowering his voice, *' why, it's a 
better thing still. The constables — and there's 
only two of them — are half a mile off, and fellows 
of the sort you say these are have always loaded 
pistols about them, and ain't nice about using 
them neither ; and a pretty thing it would be for 
me to be killed in helping the constables, and my 
missus frighted to death. No, let well alone, 
boys — let well alone ; and get through the world 
as quietly as you can. So now come in ; and 
let's ask the missus to give us some tea." 

But they had to wait for tea, for Mrs. Slight 
had not yet finished cooking the lamb-chops and 
spinach which were to form Mr. Preston's dinner. 
As soon as she had done so, and sent them in, 
she made the tea, while Tom, as usual, toasted 
the bread, which Dick afterwards buttered. There 
was a splendid pile of hot crisp brown toast soon 
made, to which both Tom and Dick did ample 
justice, although they were by no means satisfied 
with Mr. Slight's advice. They made up their 
minds not to go out that evening. I think that 
by this I need hardly say that Tom and Dick 
were as brave as most boys, but they had no wish 


to be shot at from behind a hedge, which might 
have been their fate had the thieves recognised 
them. They would have been ready enough to* 
help the constables, but there was no use in run- 
ning into needless danger, where, as Dick ex- 
pressed it, " The hitting would be all on one side^ 
and that not ours." So they resolved to stop 
quietly at home, or, at any rate, not to venture 
further than the garden. 

Soon after they had finished their tea, Betty 
brought in word that the gentleman in the parlour 
wanted a pint of port, and would like his horse 
got ready in half an hour's time, as he wished to 
reach London early. 

" Go to London on that horse !" cried Dick, 
''what a shame! The poor brute's done up 
already. He'll break down before he's halfway 

But Tom thought of other mishaps befalling 
the Squire than his horse failing him. There 
was a dark, lonely bit of road between the Bell 
and Hounslow, and Dogget and Jephson were 
not likely to be loitering in the neighbourhood 
for any good purpose. The Squire had been no 
friend to him, but he was his mother's brother, 
and had he not been, it was his duty to warn him 
of the dangers in his way. He slipped quietly 
out of the kitchen, and tapping at the door of the 


parlour where the Squire had dined, heard him 
say, ** Come in." 

Tom entered, and was startled to see the 
change that a year had wrought in the Squire. 
He looked an old man, thin, anxious, and care- 
worn, with lines round his mouth and on his 
forehead that had not been there when Tom last 
saw him. The boy felt sorry for him. There 
was a little hardness in Tom's nature — remember, 
he had been very hardly dealt with, but it always 
melted at the first touch of pity, and he felt very 
pitiful for the Squire now. He said respect- 

" I think, sir, it's as well you should know that 
the road from here to London isn't a very good 
one. / know there are some bad fellows about ; 
two of them have been drinking here to-night. 
You'll do better to stop here, and start early in 
the morning." 

" Who has sent you to me with that story ?* 
said the Squire. ** I suppose the landlord wants 
me to pay for bed and breakfast as well as din- 
ner ; but — eh ! — is that you, Tom Dunstone ? 
Have you turned waiter at an inn, sir ?" 

" If I had, it would not have been through any- 
thing that you would have done to have pre- 
vented it," replied Tom ; " but that's nothing to 
do with the matter. I tell you, sir, it is not safe 


for you to ride this road to-night. Your horse is 
knocked up, and if you fell in with bad company 
you couldn't outstrip them, and it's a dark, dan- 
gerous bit from here to Hounslow. Indeed, 
indeed, you'd better be guided by me, sir." 

" ril take my chance," said the Squire. " IVe 
pistols with me, and know how to use them. 
But I thank you for the caution. I suppose you 
mean well, unless it's done to swell the landlord's 

" I'm not in his employ," answered Tom. " I'm 
working at the trade the parish 'prenticed me to 
at Bridgetown, and am only here on a job. Well, 
sir, good night ; but I hope you'll think better of 
what I've said." 

" Not I," said the Squire ; " but, good night,'* 
and he turned away, muttering, as he looked in 
the fire, " I never saw the fellow look so like his 
mother. Hang it ! why did she throw herself 
away on a farmer ?" 

The Squire sat brooding by the fire for some 
time longer, so that it was nearly eight before he 
rang to ask for his bill and to know if his horse was 
ready. Mr. Slight presented the bill himself, and 
did his best to induce the Squire to stay, remark- 
ing on the tired state of his horse and the danger 
of the roads in that part after dark. But the 
Squire only laughed. " You're all in the same 



story," he said. " Get me my horse, and let 
be gone." 

Mr, Slight had to saddle the horse with his o 
hands, Tom and Dick refusing to have anytb 
to do with him. " They would have nothii^ 
do," they said, "with helping the Squire on 
his end, and they felt if he fell in with those r 
cals they had seen in the tap-room, to his end 
would surely come." 

The Squire rode away, and Dick and T< 
gathered with the rest around the kitchen fi 
The tap-room was full of labourers from t 
neighbourii^ cottages, and the sound of th 
boisterous merriment reached the kitchen. The 
were no guests in the parlour j and in spite 
the cheery blaze and Mr. Slight's jokes, his wif 
pleasant gossip and the fun and antics of t 
■children, with whom the boys had already mai 
fast friends, Tom felt a dull, heavy presentime 
of evil weighing his spirits down. Had the Squi 
gone to his doom ? If he fell in with those vi 
men it would be a dark one ; for he was a brai 
determined man, and would fight it out to tl 
last ; and then Tom remembered how he hj 
heard his mother tell of a great-uncle of hers wl 
had been shot down by highwaymen a fewyan 
from his own home, because he would yie 
neither purse nor watch. Was something lil 


this to be the Squire's fate, only instead of being 
overtaken by a sudden death near his home, was 
he to perish more than a hundred miles away 
from wife and household ? 

So Tom sat silent and still, till Dick began to 
yawn and stretch, and ask if he did not think it 
time they went to bed. Then Tom rose, and 
lighting his candle was about to go upstairs when 
a sound reached his ears, and those of all in the 
house but the sleeping children, and made them 
thrill with terror. 

It was the neigh of a horse ; but never before 
had those on whose ears it sounded now, heard 
such a cry from an animal. It was full of terror 
and agony, like a wild, wailing appeal for help in 
utter need. Tom trembled as he heard it ; then 
he said, " I know it's Wallack ; Mr. Slight, let's 
be quick and see to him. I believe he's come to 
tell us that his master's murdered I" 

They all hurried to the front of the house, 
from which the sound appeared to come. The 
labourers from the tap-room stood in the pas- 
sage, half afraid to venture out till they saw Mr, 
Slight coming. Then they followed him out- 
ride the house, where stood Wallack, his eyes 
dilating, his mouth foaming, and his head thrown 
wildly back, as he prepared to emit another 

Y 2 



Tom went up to the poor creature, and strol 
and soothed him. "Whereishe,WalIack — ^\vh< 
is he? — good horse — good horse — take me 
!* But Wallack stood terrified and afraid to mo 

and then Tom said, " We must go on the Lond 
road till we find Mr. Preston. That was the w 
he took. He can't have travelled far with 
i : horse so tired as his was." 

" Better take a shutter with us," said one 
the men to the others. " He'll not be able 
walk home." 

It was bright, clear moonlight, and Tom sj 
that Wallack's saddle was displaced, and one 
the stirrups torn quite off. He pointed it out 
Dick. " There's been a sharp tussle." 

" Sure to be. He'd be safe to show fighi 
said Dick, as the little procession moved oflf dov 
the London road. They walked on for above 
1 1 j mile, and then they heard groans as from one 

; • deadly pain, and it was not long before the 

found from whom they came. There, by the roa< 
side, lay the Squire, his dress torn and blood 
and the clear moonlight showing fearful bruis< 
on his face. Near him lay something muc 
stiller than the Squire ; something that woul 
never do deeds of violence again, or sin < 
blaspheme more. Something so quiet thj 

■ I 
.1 1 


the men instinctively felt there was no need 
to concern themselves about that, be it who it 
might, while the one living man claimed their 

They placed him on the shutter as tenderly 
and gently as they could, and Dick volunteering 
to run on to Hounslow for a doctor, they carried 
the Squire slowly back to the Bell, Tom walking 
by his side, feeling that now on him devolved 
the charge of his kinsman, and the duty of 
avenging him. " Though," said Tom, setting his 
teeth with a grim satisfaction, " he's pretty well 
done that for himself ; but it'll go hard if I don't 
catch the other, and hang him for this night's 

They laid the Squire upon a bed in the very 
room where Mr. Garland had slept. It was not 
long before the doctor came, but when he did he 
pronounced the case hopeless. A few hours, and 
all would be over. 

The Squire seemed to know as much, for 
looking at the doctor, he said — 

" It's all up, I suppose ?" 

He had no answer, so he said softly — 

" How long first .?" 

" Not many hours," was the reply given at 

** Too late, then, to do anything — to do any- 


thing for the old house and lands/' moaned th 
Squire, and then his eyes fell on Tom, Avho stCKX 
at the foot of the bed, looking very sorrowfull] 
upon him. A light came into the Squire's fac€ 
and Tom heard him murmur — 

" They may be his, after all. The old mai 
always liked him. Td rather so than the others 
He's a brave fellow, and a Preston too by th< 
mother's side.'' 

Then the Squire fell into a doze, but Ton: 
kept watch by him. Dick had gone to lie down 
for a few hours, and Tom had agreed to call him 
at three o'clock, in order that he might walk ovei 
to Isleworth, and ride to London: in one of the 
market carts, by which means he would be able 
to call on Mr. Garland some hours sooner than 
if he waited for the coach. The two boys thought 
it best that he should know how things were with 
the Squire. He appeared to have some know- 
ledge of him, and might advise them as to 
what should be done in this emergency; at 
any rate they knew not to whom else they could 

In about an hour the Squire woke ; he 
seemed to have a wish to speak, and Tom 
gave him the medicine which the doctor had 
left. It gave him a little strength, and he 
said — 


" I think I shot one dead, didn't I, Tom ?" 

Tom nodded. He respected the Squire for 
that. He had fought hard for his life, and met 
his death as a brave man should. 

" I think I must have lamed the other," said 
the Squire. " My ball went in his thigh, and I 
saw him go limping away just as the other closed 
in with me.'* 

" Then he can't be far off," said Tom ; " Til 
send the constables after him." 

But the magistrate who had been hastily sum- 
moned to take the dying man's deposition now 
arrived, and so Tom found some of his respon- 
sibility lightened. The Squire told his story 
very feebly. The two rascals had been lying, 
as he fancied, by a hedge, but when he got near 
they sprang up and began begging for alms. He 
rode on without paying any attention to them, 
till one seized his horse's bridle, and the other 
presented a pistol at his head. He struck the 
weapon down, and fired at the fellow who held 
it, but as he ran off the ball, he thought, could 
only have pierced his thigh. Then the other 
sprang upon him— pistol in one hand, bludgeon 
in the other. They had a fight for it — ^he was 
shot and dragged off his saddle. But even as 
he fell, he contrived to pull out his other pistol 
and discharge it in the villain's head. Then he 


knew no more till he found himself here in this 

The magistrate soon despatched constables to 
search for the wounded thief, and it was not 
long before they found him, and brought him 
to the Bell, where the Squire identified him as 
one of his assailants. Then he seemed very 
tired, and was left again with only Tom to 
watch him. Only Tom — of all his kin, none to 
be with him but the boy whom he had scouted 
and despised. 

Towards morning he opened his ^yts again. 

" Are you there, Tom V 

" Yes, sir ; what is it T said Tom, coming 
towards him. 

" Tom, I hope you^ll be Preston of Prest-hope 
when Tm gone. Fve dealt hardly by you, and 
you were my sister's son ; but youVe a better 
lad and a braver than either Fred or Gus. The 
old place wants a man for its master, and there's 
the making of one in you. Give me your hand. 
Good night, my boy." 

Never a word spoke the Squire more that was 
audible to any ears but those of One unseen. 
Something he murmured between whiles, but 
Tom could not catch its meaning. It might be 
prayer — ^Tom hoped so ; and he bent his own 
head and prayed too, that the offences and short- 



comings of the dying man might be forgiven 
above, as heartily as he, Tom, forgave those he 
had committed against him. So another hour 
passed on, and as the sun rose Squire Preston 
gave a great sigh, and closed his eyes never to 
open them in this world again. 



HE Squire was quietly buried in a comer 
of Hounslow churchyard. Mr. Garland 
directed everything, and Tom and he attended 
the funeral together. He wrote to Mrs. Preston 
acquainting her with her bereavement as tenderl3'' 
and gently as he could, but he soon had to let 
her know that her husband's death was not the 
only loss that had befallen her. Then for the 
first time she became aware how deeply the 
Squire had become involved. Something of his 
embarrassments he had been obliged to tell her, 
in order to obtain her consent to her trustees 
allowing him to make use of her money, but she 
had not thought the ruin so thorough as it really 
was. The very stock on the farm and the house- 
hold furniture had been pledged to Quarle as 
additional security for the money he had ad- 


vanced. She bore it very placidly, however. 
Her own income was sufficient for her >Y«^nts, 
which were very simple, and leaving the Grange 
she took up her quarters at Bridgetown, where 
Mrs. General Mauriel took her under her wing, 
and announced that after herself Mrs. Preston 
was the lady of the most social importance in 
the town. There was no disputing Mrs. General's 
fiat in such matters, and Mrs. JefTeries and Mrs. 
Brown had to give place accordingly to their 
sister-in-law, and Mrs. General took very good 
care they did; although Mrs. Preston herself 
would have cared very little about the matter. 

But they had a much greater mortification ta 
endure, than learning that as soon as their sister- 
in-law was able to join in them they would have 
to give place and precedence to her at all the tea 
drinkings and card-parties in the town. There 
was no hiding from any one that Squire Preston 
had died deeply in debt, and that neither Fred 
Jefferies nor Gussy Brown would ever be the 
Squire of Prest-hope in his place. Jacob Quarle 
had taken possession of the Grange, that is ta 
say, though he did not live there himself he had 
put people in to take charge of the house and 
furniture ; had let the home farm, and collected 
the rents himself. No chance of Fred or Gussy 
ever reigning at Prest-hope now, and as there 


was no longer a squire in the family, Mrs. Brown 
and Mrs. Jefferies felt their social importance 
greatly diminished. 

Tom and Dick went on much as before at Mr. 
Webb's. He had raised their wages again^ so 
that things were more comfortable than they had 
been. Every Sunday they went out with Jack, 
and when the Midsummer holidays came it was 
arranged that he should spend them with Mrs. 
Todgers, and that they should come to see or 
take him out every evening. Mr. Garland 
showed an increasing interest in the boys ; he 
lent them books, and persuaded them to go to 
evening school, and Tom tried hard to learn all 
he could, so that when little Jack grew up he 
might not be ashamed of his brother. 

" It wont do for one to be a dunce, and the 
other a scholar," he said to Dick ; " and I 
shouldn't like Peculiar to be ashamed of me by 
and by. Not that ever I shall be up to his mark ; 
still there's no reason," he added, laughing, 
** that I should be as great a disgrace to him as 
I've been to the rest of my family." 

Dick tried hard to study too, in order to 
** keep up a bit with Tom ;" and so with work 
and lessons, and visiting Mr. Garland, and taking 
care of little Jack, some months passed on 
pleasantly enough. 


I should have mentioned sooner that Mr. 
Jephson suffered the penalty of his misdeeds on 
the gallows, to the satisfaction of every one who 
was acquainted with his past career. Those 
were terrible hanging times, but Jephson at least 
deserved his doom. 

In the autumn Tom was very much surprised 
at receiving a letter from Mrs. Preston. It was 
very kindly written, telling him she should 
be glad to hear that he was doing well, and that 
if he would like to come to Bridgetown to see 
his old master, she would willingly pay his fare 
by coach there and back, as well as Jack's and 
the friend who had gone with him. 

"It's a very handsome offer, and does her 
credit," said Dick, "and I don't see why we 
shouldn't go, only I think it would be better, 
Tom, if we went at Christmas." 

Tom too felt tempted to avail himself of Mrs. 
Preston's kindness, but like Dick he thought it 
would be better to do so at Christmas-time, when 
Jack would have his holidays. So he wrote back, 
thanking his aunt for her consideration, and telling 
her that he was doing very well indeed, and that 
Jack, Dick, and he would be very happy to avail 
themselves of her liberality at Christmas, it 
that would be equally agreeable to her. Shortly 
after he had another letter from Mrs. Preston, 



saying that she should be very pleased to se 
them at Christmas, and accompanying the lette 
was a parcel of nicely knitted socks for Uttl( 
Jack. Mrs. Preston was a famous knitter, and i 
-quite rejoiced her heart to have nephews to worl 
for. The boys were to spend their Christina 
with their old master. That had been settlec 
from the first ; and it was hearing Mrs. Wilkin! 
lament the expense of the journey, which might 
prevent their coming to see her for years, thai 
had suggested to Mrs. Preston a way by whicl 
she could greatly please the boys and thejr olc 
master and mistress at the same time. 

This was something to look forward to. There 
was a little difficulty in inducing Mr. Webb to 
give them a holiday ; but as by this time he knew 
that such boys were not to be met with every 
day, he was at last induced to agree to do so. Of 
course their wages would be stopped while they 
were away ; but then, as they were very careful 
and would not be at much expense, they "could 
stand that," as Dick said ; so altogether every- 
thing looked hopeful and promising for the 
coming Christmas-time. 

But things looked more promising than ever 
when, a few days before Christmas, Mr. Garland 
informed Tom and Dick that he intended to be 
their fellow-traveller on the journey, as Mr. 


Quarle wished him to visit Bridgetown upon some 
business matters connected with himself. 

" There are plenty of men who would serve his 
turn much nearer," he said, laughing, " and do his 
work much cheaper than I possibly can, going 
all the way from London for that purpose. I've 
told him so, but he says that's his affair — honesty's 
a scarce article, and if he chooses to pay for it he's 
a right to. It's a compliment to me, of course ; 
and a trip in the country, even at this time of the 
year, is always pleasant; and as I've no particular 
engagement this Christmas, why, I'll spend it at 
Bridgetown, though I don't suppose my client 
will ask me to dinner." 

This was delightful! Fancy travelling with 
Mr. Garland, who was so full of pleasant sayings 
and good stories ! How thankful the boys felt to 
Mr. Quarle for selecting a London solicitor to do 
his business. It was a strange whim and an ex- 
pensive one, but you may be sure they were in 
no humour to find fault with it. 

It was a bitter winter, and the journey was a 
cold one, but our boys were too pleased with 
everything to grumble at the weather. They 
rode inside, Mrs. Preston had insisted upon that, 
which was a very good thing every way, as they 
would not have seen much of Mr. Garland else, 
for he certainly would not have travelled outside 


the coach. Whenever they stopped to change 
horses they got out and ran about awhile to warm 
themselves ; then they got in again, all glowing 
and fresh with the exercise, and were whirled on 
towards their journey's end ; every mile bringing 
them nearer and nearer the old familiar town and 
the friendly faces that were waiting them. It 
was a hard frost, but the horses spun along the 
iron-bound road as if enjoying the cold, and 
everything went well, without any hindrance or 
misadventure, till they stopped at Sleigh, the last 
place where they changed horses before arriving 
at Bridgetown. 

Several of their fellow-passengers alighted here, 
and a voice that sounded familiar to their ears 
said, " Room for two inside ?" and on ascertaining 
that there was, the "two" got in. They were 
both gentlemen ; well wrapped up, but shivering 
with cold. They nestled themselves into the va- 
cant places in the carriage, and Tom and Dick 
were not long in doubt as to who their fellow- 
travellers were. They were Dr. Jefferies and 
Mr. Brown, who had both been to Sleigh upon 
business — a wine merchant's stock having been 
sold off that day on account of his retiring from 
business, and as it was necessary that both the 
lawyer and the doctor should occasionally pur- 
chase wine, and still more necessary that they 


should do so cheaply, they had driven over in 
Dr. Jefferies' phaeton, but on reaching the town it 
was discovered that one of the shafts was in such 
a state that it would be impossible to return till 
it was mended. It was impossible for the doctor 
to wait ; it was now nearly seven o'clock, and he 
had a patient seriously ill — at least ill enough in 
the doctor's opinion to require two visits a day — 
whom he ought to call upon that evening, and it 
would take some hours to repair the damage to 
the phaeton, and neither Mr. Brown nor he felt 
at all disposed to travel alone when midnight was 
drawing on. In this dilemma they thought of 
the coach, and thus it was that they found them- 
selves travelling in the same conveyance as their 

They were not aware that they were doing so, 
however, for some time, when at last little Jack, 
who had been asleep, woke up with a start, say- 
ing, " I say, Tom, how long will it be before we 
are at Bridgetown ?" 

" Only about half an hour, my little man," said 
Mr. Brown, blandly, without the slightest idea 
that he was wasting his courtesy on his youngest 
nephew ; but Jack's sharp ears recognised the 
voice at once, and sitting bolt upright, he said, 
" I do believe it's Uncle Brown !" 

Then Mr. Brown remembered that he had 



heard that Jack and Tom were to visit Bridge- 
town that Christmas, but he had not expected to 
find them travelling inside the stage-coach. Mrs 
Preston might surely have been satisfied wit! 
paying outside fare for themw He made the besi 
of things, however, and asked Tom how he wai 
getting on in London, in a stiff,^ patronizing man 
ner, to which Tom replied very briefly. Then 
was very little said after that Both Dr. Jeflferie 
and Mr. Brown would much rather not have mel 
the boys, who on their side could very well hav< 
dispensed with the honour of their uncles' com- 
pany; so they travelled in silence till within 
two miles of Bridgetown, when a sudden jerk and 
a stop told them that something serious had 

" Can't be waylaid by highwaymen again !" 
asked Dr. JefTeries, in a nervous voice. His fears 
were always ready to get uppermost in his 
not very strong mind. 

" No — no — ^the road'^s been quiet enough now 
for some time," said Mr. Brown, who was just a 
little, and a very little, braver than his brother- 
in-law. Presently'the guard came to the door oi 
the coach, and informed those inside that one ol 
the horses had fallen down and lamed himself^ 
and that he would have to go to Bridgetown foi 
assistance ; would the gentlemen wait where they 


were, or walk on to the town ? If they were in a 
hurry to reach their journey's end and did not 
mind walking, that would be the quickest 

So Mr. Garland seemed to think, for he got out, 
telling the guard to leave his luggage and that of 
his companions at the Blue Boar, where the coach 
stopped, and where he meant to take up his 
quarters. Dick and Tom followed, but little Jack 
paused at the door of the coach, and turning to 
the doctor, observed — 

" I say. Uncle Jefferies, if you and Uncle Brown 
are afraid, come along with us ; we'll take care 
of you." 

This was very considerate of Jack, but his 
uncles did not vouchsafe him any answer. When 
they were alone, however, they began to consider 
what had best be done. They did not like the 
walk over the lonely road to Bridgetown, espe- 
cially as they should have to pass Keyhole Free- 
hold, which was in as bad repute as ever ; but 
they still less liked the idea of sitting where they 
were, with only the coachman for protection, for 
there were no outside passengers, and the guard 
had gone on to Bridgetown ; besides which the 
doctor would be too late for his patient, and Mr- 
Brown for a small card party, at which his wife 
was presiding that evening. So they resolved to 

Z 2 


get out and walk, and make the best of their way 
to the town on foot. 

But the best was a poor one. Mr. Brown was 
afflicted with a corn, a corn that was a perpetual 
trouble to him, and this night was shooting forth 
more vigorously than ever; he couldn't take 
three steps without a twinge, and before long 
began to regret having attempted to walk. Jack 
and his party were quite out of sight by this 
time, and Dr. Jefferies was beginning to wish 
that either he had not got out of the coach, or 
that Mr. Brown could have kept up with the rest 
of the passengers. It would have been worth 
while to have endured even Jack's tongue, to 
have had such an escort as those two great boys 
and the tall portly gentleman who was with them. 

" Shall we go back to the coach T he said to 
Mr. Brown. 

" No — no ; weVe left it some way behind now. 
As we Vegot so far we'll try and push on. My 
good man, I've got nothing for you. Never carry 
my purse after dark, and don't suppose I've a 
copper about me." 

This latter part of his speech was addressed to 
a tall, sturdy beggar, who seemed, as it were, to 
spring out of the hedge for the purpose of de- 
manding alms with a pertinacity that would take 
no denial. The two gentlemen thought of the 


Squire's fate, and trembled as the vagrant kept 
following them, clamouring for relief. His voice, 
too, was one that had very unpleasant recollec- 
tions for Dr. Jefferies, and as the moonlight shone 
upon his face he recognised, with a thrill of horror, 
Tozer, the husband of his most refractory patient. 
Tozer recollected him, too, and saw that the doc- 
tor was afraid of him. He had only left prison 
some months ago, but instead of returning 
home to his affectionate wife, he had been wan- 
dering about the country making out a living 
as best he could by tinkering, poaching, helping 
in stable-yards, holding horses, and doing any 
other odd job that came in his way. Indeed, it is 
doubtful if Mr. Tozer would have cared to return 
home at all, this nomadic life being very well 
suited to his taste, had not the severity of the 
weather and sundry twinges of rheumatism made 
him think that he would do best to return to his 
own fireside. Mrs. Tozer had heard of his wan- 
derings, and naturally resented her liege lord's 
indifference to the attractions of his home. She 
had got on pretty well without him by taking in 
a lodger or two, telling fortunes to servant girls, 
and allowing her house to be a hiding-place for 
game and poultry without troubling herself to 
inquire too curiously from whose preserves or 
fowl-house they came. On the whole she did so 


well without Tozer,that she had lately announced 
her intention of not receiving him back when he 

" Th' house is mine, an* I ha* gotten the key/* 
she told her intimates, " an' whosoever it be that 
has the key has the right to th' house. That's 
the law of Keyhole Freehold, an' I mean to bide 
by it, an' keep my place to myself without trou- 
bling Tozer, as he's let me do it so long." 

All unconscious of these amiable intentions on 
the part of his wife, Mr. Tozer was proceeding 
home, accompanied by his friend Mr. Tuck, whom 
he had hospitably invited to spend his Christmas 
with him. They had taken a short cut across 
the fields, and on reaching the hedge and per- 
ceiving two foot passengers, Mr. Tozer thought 
it not unlikely that if he were sufficiently impor- 
tunate they might fee him handsomely in order 
to be rid of him. Mr. Tuck was stopping behind 
to take a stone out of his boot, but Mr. Tozer 
had quite sufficient reliance on his own powers 
of persuasion or intimidation, especially when he 
found he had to deal with the doctor and Mr. 

He had by no means forgiven them his impri- 
sonment ; he had got into trouble through 
being concerned with some others in an 
attempted burglary. This was very unjust, 


as neither the doctor nor the lawyer had 
anything to do with it ; but like many other 
people, Mr. Tozer did not pause to consider 
justice when he was angry.; and lie thought 
that Mr. Brown might have taken up his 
case gratuitously, and won him a triumphant 
acquittal; or that the doctor, who had known 
him so long and supplied his wife with such 
quantities of physic, might have come forward as 
a witness to character. 

" Didn't they both know me?" he would say, 
" from the time we was all boys together. Many's 
the time IVe snowballed that doctor, an* made 
him run afore me. He was allers a weak, 
timorsome chap, an* frighted if a mouse only 
wagged its tail. J blacked his eye once with a 
brickbat, an* it was nigh a year afterwards afore 
he could set eyes on me without screechin*. An' 
to think of his forgetting all that now ! What's 
the use of a man living in the same town all his 
life, if those as has known him from the first 
wont speak a word for him when need be ?'* 

So now, when Mr. Tozer saw the fellow-towns- 
men who, in his opinion, had so shamefully 
neglected their duty by him, he resolved to 
punish them to some extent by giving them at 
least a thorough good frightening. Accordingly 
he persisted in his clamorous demands for charity, 


and finding they were not attended to — all th( 
effect they produced being to cause the docto: 
and the lawyer to hurry on the faster — ^h( 
changed his tone, and began insisting on some 
thing being given him as a recompense for hi 
undeserved sufferings. 

" A twelvemonth in prizun, an' never a frienc 
to say a good word for me to keep me out of it,' 
he began. " People can lie hard enough wha 
it suits their own turn, an' hoodwink an' bam 
boozle the justices fast enough when they wan 
to get costs from a poor fellow as has just beei 
tellin' his neighbour a bit of his mind ; but whei 
it's to help a decent man as they've known sine 
he was a babby, they wont move a finger to sav 
him. The least you can do, gentlemen, afte 
takin' away my character by lettin' me be sen 
to prizun and breakin' up my home, is to giv 
me a pound or two to start with. I'll call m; 
mate, who isn't far off, and see what he says to it. 
Mr. Tozer retreated a few steps and looke 
back for Mr. Tuck ; but not seeing him, mutterec 
" Can't have got over the hedge yet ; what keep 
V him loiterin' like this ?" 

I; He sprang across himself, and emitted a loui 

* shrill whistle as a summons to Mr. Tuck, wh 

! had just pulled on his boot. The doctor an< 

Mr. Brown looked at each other as they hean 


the whistle, and felt they were doomed men un- 
less they sought safety in flight. Let his corn 
twinge as it might, Mr. Brown felt that he must 
run for very life. If they could only reach little 
Jack and his party there might be safety for 
them. Off he and the doctor started ; and Tozer, 
hearing their footsteps, shouted after them, 
" Hallo ! stop there, I tell ye ; you and I haven't 
squared matters yet." 

This only added wings to the feet of the terri- 
fied ones, especially as when they attained the 
summit of the road, which was rather a steep 
slope just there, they saw no signs of their fellow- 
passengers. On they ran till they passed a shed, 
the last of the outhouses belonging to a farm. 
A bright idea seized the doctor, and he pushed 
the door of the shed. It was not fastened, and 
thinking he had found a place of refuge he 
rushed in, followed by his companion ; and clos- 
ing the door, which opened inwards, the two leant 
their backs against it to oppose the entrance of 
Tozer in case he attempted to force one. 

Nothing, however, was further from that 
worthy's thoughts than the doing so. Tuck and 
he ran on after the fugitives, and not seeing them 
when they, too, were at the highest point of the 
road, guessed where they had taken refuge. 
They came softly to the door of the shed, and 


listening attentively outside, were soon satisfied 
that the quick, heavy breathings they heard were 
not emitted by any cow or horse that might be 
inside. Tozer grinned with delight He saw a 
way here of inflicting a little very appropriate 
retribution. Why should not those who had 
with such indifference witnessed his going to 
prison endure a little confinement themselves } 
The shed had a fastening outside, but the pad- 
lock which should have secured it was gone, the 
key having been lost, and the labourer who 
ought to have secured the shed and its occupant 
long before this, being at the present time idling 
at the smithy under pretence of fitting it with 
another. But the chain and hasp remained, and 
Mr. Tozer, looking round, was not long in find- 
ing a flint that, tightly wedged in the latter, 
would prevent the unfortunates inside the shed 
from letting themselves out, as well as the pad- 
lock could have done. He fitted this in as 
silently as possible, and then Mr. Tuck and he 
ran off, feeling anxious to secure their own night's 
lodging, and quite satisfied with the one they 
had procured for Mr. Brown and the doctor. 



IPn R. GARLAND and his party were hidden 
IboI from the sight of the terrified fugitives 
who were looking so eagerly for them, by a slight 
bend of the road, in the centre of which was a 
stile, and standing by this stile any one could 
obtain a view of Bridgetown, which in the dis- 
tance, with its twinkling lights, looked pretty 
enough in the clear frosty air. Cold as it was, 
and eager as they were to reach Bridgetown, the 
two boys took Mr. Garland to this spot, and 
showed him the town in the distance, trying to 
find out the different houses and show him, while 
little Jack, who was too small to see much with- 
out being held up, was lifted in Tom's arms to 
take a look at the town too. 

This delay caused them to be soon overtaken 
by Mr. Tozer and his friend, and as neither Mr. 
Garland nor Jack were very fast walkers, they 


soon outstripped them, and arrived at Keyhol 
Freehold some seconds before they did. M 
Tozer was in a hurry to see his wife — at leas 
ij to get to his home, and was rather surprise 

when on knocking with his knuckles at the doo: 
and demanding admittance as the master of th 
house, she put her head out of window, an 
flatly refused to let him in. 

It was just at this moment that Mr. Garlan 
and the boys came up. That gentleman ha 
heard the story of Keyhole Freehold from Did 
and looked with a little interest on the Strang 
old place which gave so curious a right < 
ownership to its tenants ; and he stopped to loc 
at the tumble-down old pile, which appeared le 
sordidly wretched in the moonlight. Mr. Toz( 
and his friend stood in the small ill-kept plot < 
ground before the house, and the former wj 
now indignantly exclaiming— 

*' Not let me in. Bet ! Why, th* house is min 
an* all that's in it. TU kick the door down if 3 
doan't. Just see if I woant." 

"Then TU ha' ye taken to the lock-up, see 
/ doan't," said Mrs. Tozer. " Get away, mar 
\ how dare ye come here, breaking into a qui 

woman's house } The place is mine, an' none 
yours. Tse got the key, an' the house is min 
jIIIi an' if ye only dare to set foot over the place, I 


tell my lodgers — an' there's two of 'em, stout, 
strong fellows — ^to turn ye out neck an' heels, 
an' give ye to the constables for forcin' your 
way in a place where you've no business to." 

Mr. Tozer looked in amaze at his friend. " If 
this isn't pretty behaviour !" he said, at length ; 
*' here's a man's own wife keeping him out of 
his own house ! Did any one ever hear the like 
o' that ?" 

" A man's own wife, indeed !" cried Mrs. Tozer, 
contemptuously. " It's a deal you thought o' 
your wife when you were gallivanting all over 
the country, an' leavin* her to fend an' find as 
she could for herself. An* as to its being your 
house, what right have you to it, any more nor 
any one else } You haven't the key, an' who 
ever heard of a house in Keyhole Freehold be- 
longin' to any one but them as had ?" 

Mr. Tozer felt nonplussed. He could but feel 
that his wife's logic was sound. The possession 
of the key had constituted his own right to the 
cottage, and of course it now formed hers. Mrs. 
Tozer continued from the window — 

" A fine time I've had of it while you've been 
away. I've had the rheumatics that bad I 
haven't been able to lift my hand to my head, 
an' that good-for-nothing doctor has never set 
his foot in the place. Of course, when a woman's 


II • 


own husband neglects her, it isn't likely tl 
anybody else 'ud take the trouble to see afl 
her. I haven't had a drop of physic for s 
months, at least ; an' the last I had, I had 
beg an' pray for, an' send agin an' agin afore 
could get it — ^an' find my own bottles into tl 
bargain, which is a thing I never had to c 
when yoti was in the way to look after m 

Mrs. Tozer seemed affected, to judge by tl 
sound of her voice. The recollection of h( 
wrongs appeared too much for her. Mr. Toz< 
thought this a good opportunity to strike in. 

" If I didn't guess as much, Bet ! if I didn 
think he'd neglect you when I wasn't in the wa 
to look after him ! An' isn't it that that's brougl 
me home ! an' haven't I punished him alread 
for it? I've got him safe, Bet, in a pleasan 
place to spend his Christmas-eve; listen. Be 
an' I'll tell you how I've served the fellow out 
And going close to the window Mr. Tozer, in i 
few words, so low that they were inaudible t 
either Mr. Garland, Tom, or Dick, told his wif 
how he had served out the lawyer and the doctoi 
Little Jack heard them though, for he had crep 
through one of the gaps in the paling, an< 
listened, unobserved, to what Mr. Tozer wa 
narrating. Then he went back to the others 


v/ho were standing on the other side of the 
road, concealed from Mr. Tozer's view by the 
shadow of the trees above them, and only 
expressed his delight at what he had heard 
by a few quiet chuckles. Mrs. Tozer seemed 
equally gratified with her husband's story, but 
she still demurred about letting him in. 

" I wouldn't mind so much if you'd come by 
yourself," she said, " but there's that fellow with 
you who was the first that led you into evil 
courses. Afore you knew him, Tozer, you was 
allers content with bringing home a hare or two, 
or maybe a fowl now and then. You was a quiet, 
respectable man, an' 'ud no more ha' thought o* 
breaking into a house than I should of killing a 
babby. No, no, Tozer, stick to the mate you've 
chosen, an* go away, an* let your wife be." 

Mrs. Tozer withdrew from the window, and ap- 
peared about to close it, when Mr. Garland, who 
had been very much amused by the whole con- 
versation, stepped forward, and touching his hat 
said, with the utmost politeness, " Pray, madam, 
don't leave the window without giving me an 
opportunity of trying to arrange this little matter 
between yourself and the good gentleman here." 

Mrs. Tozer leaned eagerly out of the window. 
She had never been called " madam " in her life, 
and she was curious to see who it was that ad- 

352 TOM dunstonje:s troubles. 

dressed her with such courtesy. Mr. Garland 
continued : — "A little concession on each side 
appears to be all that is wanting. You have the 
key, which gives you in a manner the right of 
ownership to the house, and to allow who you 
will to enter it ; but on the other hand, Mr.Tozer 
is evidently anxious and eager to enjoy the society 
of his wife ; and, madam, you have no right to 
debar him from that privilege. I speak as a 
lawyer — a London lawyer, madam," added Mr. 
Garland, emphatically ; " and I say, that where 
the wife dwells the husband has a right to enter. 
Can*t we settle it like this : — Mr.Tozer will agree 
to relinquish the society of his friend here, who, I 
am sure, would be sorty to cause a difference be- 
tween man and wife ; he will also agree to leave 
the hazardous employment of housebreaking, and 
return to the more peaceable pursuits in which 
he formerly engaged, and Mrs. Tozer will come 
down at once, and allow him to peaceably 
enter the house of which she is at present 

A great part of Mr. Garland's harangue was 
unintelligible to Mrs. Tozer, but she gathered its 
general purport, and was much flattered by a 
" London lawyer" styling her " madam." After 
making Mr. Tozer promise better behaviour for 
the future, and stipulating that Tuck was not to 


enter the house at all, she came down and let 
him in, when the first thing Mr. Tozer did was to 
put the house-key in his pocket, and exclaim, 
** Now, old woman, Fm master of my own house 

Mr. Garland and the boys were soon in Bridge- 
town, and on arriving at the Blue Boar, where 
the coach had been ,expected, they found quite a 
large party awaiting them. Mr. Wilkins was 
there, Harry Swain, and a number of Tom's and 
Dick's old companions. They led them off" in tri- 
umph to Seth Wilkins's house, which was a little 
way out of the further end of the town. Mr. 
Garland ordered supper at the Blue Boar, and 
went early to bed, as he felt very tired, and 
neither he, Tom, nor Dick gave their late fellow- 
passengers a thought. As to little Jack, he forgot 
all about them too for a while, his head being 
completely turned by the reception he received. 
Harry Swain put him up on his shoulder, and 
carried him through the town that way. Jack 
nodding and smiling on the road to every one he 
met. No prince ever felt more important than 
Jack, or prouder of his robes than the small one 
did of his good great-coat and smart cap, so 
different from the garments in which he had left 
Ikidgctown. They met the Rector soon, and he 
shook hands with Tom and Dick, patted Jack on 

A A 


the cheek, and told him he was gfrowing quite a 
fine fellow, and that he should expect to see them 
all at church to-morrow. As to Mrs. Wilkins, 
she kissed Jack again and again, and almost 
cried over him ; then she told Dick and Tom they 
had grown so she should hardly have known 
them, and then led them into her bright little 
parlour, where the cloth was laid for supper, and 
Mr. Dennes waiting to see them. They had so 
much to tell and to hear, Mrs. Wilkins was so full 
of admiration of their London-made clothes and 
their improved looks, and they were so much 
impressed with the smartness of the little parlour 
and its new furniture — Seth Wilkins had never 
had a parlour while in business ; he said the times 
were too hard to allow of it — and the mince pies 
were so good, and the punch, which Mr. Wilkins 
brewed as an especial treat, so exhilarating, that 
Jack forgot all about his uncles ; and at last, 
fairly overcome with fatigue, delight, and the sup- 
per he had eaten, slipped off his chair, and was 
picked up fast asleep from under the table. Tom 
carried him upstairs and put him to bed, and Dick 
and he soon went too, feeling almost as tired as 
little Jack, who never woke till nearly eight o'clock 
the next morning, when his first words were, as 
some of the events of the previous night rushed 



into his recollection, " I wonder whether those two 
have got out of the cow-house yet ?" 

** The cow-house, Peculiar ? What cow-house 
are you talking of?" said Tom. "You ain't awake 
yet, young one." 

"Yes, I am," replied Jack, "and it's Uncle 
Jefferies and Uncle Brown that have been shut 
in the cow-house. I heard Tozer telling her all 
about it last night. They ran in to get away 
from him, and he fastened them in with a stone. 
If nobody's gone that way they must be there 
still. I should think they must have found it 
cold," added Jack, reflectively. 

" Cold ! — they must be nigh frozen," cried Tom. 
" Why didn't you tell us of this before. Jack r 

" Because I never thought of it," replied Jack. 
" What are you getting up in such a hurry for, 
Tom ?" 

" Why, to let them out, to be sure," cried Tom. 
"They'll be perished if we don't look sharp. 
Dick, will you come too ?" 

" Yes ; I should like to see how they look after 
their night's lodging," said Dick. " What a famous 
Christmas-eve they must have had, to be sure ! 
But I say, Tom, I'd call on parson as wc 
go. As likely as not if we don't those old fogies 
will say we shut them in, and make some mis- 

A A 2 


chief to spoil our Christmas. I don't know but 
what if we were wise we should do better to leave 
them where they are." 

But Tom could not agree to this. However, 
he thought it would be as well to call and tell the 
parson, in case either the doctor or Mr. Brown 
should think fit to tax Dick and him with a 
share in the trick played on them. Leaving Jack 
to account for their absence to Mr. Wilkins and 
" the mistress," they ran off, and knocking at Mr. 
Trevor's door, were shown at once into the dining- 
room, where they found him in conversation with 
Mrs. General. 

She was so pleased to see them that she^brgot 
for a short time the object of her visit ; but having 
shaken hands with both, and told them they 
looked all the better for having been to London, 
she went on with what she had been saying to 
Mr. Trevor when they came in. 

** The two silly shiftless creatures are at their 
wit's end. Mrs. Jefferies sent for me at six o'clock 
this morning to tell me her husband had not re- 
turned last night, and while she was crying and 
wringing her hands, Mrs. Brown came in a state 
almost of distraction to see her sister, and I found 
Mr. Brown had not returned home either. I sent 
Fred down to the Blue Boar to inquire if they had 
heard anything of the two gentlemen when the 


coach changed horses, but all they could say was 
that no passengers got down there, as they had 
all got out when the horse fell down, with the in- 
tention of proceeding to Bridgetown, for which 
they were booked." 

A loud knock was heard at the door while 
Mrs. General was speaking, and almost before 
she had concluded a servant brought in Mr. 
Garland's card, which was promptly followed by 
the entrance of that gentleman himself. Ad- 
dressing himself to the parson, he said — 

" I believe I have the pleasure of speaking to 
the Reverend Laurence Trevor, a magistrate as 
well as the rector of this parish ?" 

Mr.Trevor bowed, and Mr. Garland continued — 

** I have just heard that two of my fellow pas- 
sengers by the Express, who alighted at the 
same time as myself with the intention of walk- 
ing on to Bridgetown, have been missing." 

" It s all right, sir," cried Dick ; " Tom and I 
have just come to tell parson where they are, 
Little Jack's just been telling us that Tozer shut 
them up in a cow-house where they had run and 
hidden themselves, because he had made believe 
he was going to rob them." Then he told the 
story as Tom and he had heard it from Jack, at 
which Mrs. General laughed till she cried, and 
the parson almost roared. Presently, however, 


he recollected himself, and said, looking as 
sternly as he could under the circumstances — 

" Mr. Tozer has made a good b^inning as 
soon as he has returned home. Well, my boys, 
I think the sooner we let these unfortunate 
gentlemen out the better. Shall you know the 
shed r 

" We only passed one from the time we got 
out till we reached Keyhole Freehold/' said Tom, 
" so there can't be any mistake about it ; and 
now I think of it, I heard a cow bellowing as if 
she had lost her calf as we came by. I remember 
saying so to Dick." 

"Then if that was the case they've had a 
pleasant night," observed Mrs. General. " Mr. 
Trevor, if you're going with these boys, I think 
I'll come too. I should like to see how Dr. 
Jefferies looks after being shut up for a night 
with a wild cow !" 

" So should I," said Mr. Garland ; *' and if you 
have no objection, madam, I will accompany you 
and Mr. Trevor." 

The parson despatched a message to Mrs. 
Jefferies to say that he thought it would not be 
long before she saw her husband ; and then Mrs. 
General and he, Mr. Garland and the boys, started 
off for the cow-shed. 

Dr. Jefferies and his brother-in-law had had a 


terrible night The only other occupant of the 
shed beside themselves was a cow, who, as Tom 
thought, had recently lost her calf. The poor 
creature was half desperate, and in a humour to 
turn on every one who came in her way, as if 
they were all participants in the crime of robbing 
her of her offspring. Mr. Brown and the doctor 
had been too engrossed by their fears of Mr. 
Tozer to pay much attention to her at first, but 
she soon made them unpleasantly aware of her 
presence — bellowing at them, and advancing 
towards them with lowered head and dangerous- 
looking horns, till they thought they would sooner 
risk meeting Mr. Tozer than stay in the shed to 
be gored or trampled to death by a mad cow. 
They tried to open the door, but in vam, Mr. 
Tozer had secured it very firmly ; they were in 
agonies of fright, and knew not what to do. The 
moon shone full through a small window above 
the door, and they could see that the cow looked 
furious, while her bellowings became more threa- 
tening than ever. Some way above the manger 
was an immense oaken hay-rack. It struck the 
doctor if he could only get up here, he should be 
safe from the cow for awhile. He rushed behind 
her, put his foot on the manger and swung him- 
self up by his arms into the hay-rdck, dislodging 
a number of fowls who had thought fit to roost 


here. They flew out, indignantly clucking an 
crowing, some striking him on the face with thei 
wings, others flying at Mr. Brown, who remaine 
below, with his back to the door and his face t 
the cow, who looked at him as if she mean 

She was quiet now, but there was such a mean 
ing in her eye that Mr. Brown's heart failed withi 
him. He tried to get past her in the hope tha 
he might obtain the same place of refuge as th 
doctor had done, but the cow came closer to hin 
and in a paroxysm of fright he fell down on hi 
knees, and lifting up his hands cried, " I'm 

j doomed man ! — I shall never leave this plac 

alive !" 

\\ The doctor thought so too, and congratulate 

himself on his own comparative safety ; but pre 
sently Mr. Brown saw a gleam of hope and rushe 
between the cow's legs ; then springing on hi 
feet tried to make way to the hay-rack, but th 
cow had no notion of letting him off so easil} 
She turned round and ran after him, and the she 
being a very roomy one, there was plenty c 
space for her to chase Mr. Brown in. The fowh 
more irritated than ever, flew both in his face an^ 
the cow's, adding their voices to her bellowinj 
till the uproar was almost deafening. 

"She'll have him!" thought the doctor; " 





i ' 

, ] 


don't sec any chance for him. I wonder if he s 
made his will." 

But Mr. Brown was too quick for the cow. He 
gave one leap and was soon trying to push his 
way into the hay-rack, in .spite of Dr. Jefferies* 
remonstrances that though it would bear one, it 
would not two, and that his additional weight 
would certainly pull it down. But the hay-rack 
though roughly was strongly builtj and Mr. Brown 
found safety there as well as his brother-in-law. 
It was a very uncomfortable perch certainly, and 
they got terribly cramped before the morning, 
while the cow kept them in fear by pulling at the 
hay which hung down, and now and then lifting 
up her head towards them and emitting an ac- 
cusatory bellow. There is no knowing how long 
they might have remained here had not little 
Jack thought of them, for Dick Giles, the farm- 
labourer, who had the charge of the cow, not only 
forgot to come back with the padlock when he 
had fitted the key to it, but partly in honour of 
Christmas-day and partly in consequence of the 
manner in which he had kept Christmas-eve, lay 
in bed till some hours after he should have at- 
tended to the cow. Their plight was truly 
pitiable when Tom removed the stone from 
the door and opened it ; but even he shrank 
back from entering at first, for the cow looked 


very evilly at him, and emitted a portentous 

" Is she safe ?" asked Mrs. General, anxiously. 
*' Now, Tom, don't go and get tossed, for she's 
a terrible looking creature." 

Luckily it had occurred to Tom, when Mrs. 
General spoke of the cow, that a halter or a 
rope with a noose might be convenient, and he 
had obtained the latter article from the parson's 
man-servant. He saw at once what was amiss 
with the cow, and going quietly up, threw the 
noose over her head, drew it tight, and then 
speaking soothingly to her, tried to persuade 
Madame Vache to walk out and give place to 
her visitors. 

** Take her out ! take her out ! and shoot her, 
horrid wretch !" cried the doctor and the lawyer 
from the hay-rack, and then the parson, Mrs. 
General, and the rest looked up and saw their 
scared faces looking from amidst the hay. Mrs. 
General shrieked with laughter, Mr. Garland and 
the parson were equally overcome, and as to Dick, 
he sat down, though he had his best clothes on, 
on the gravel footway, and laughed till the tears 
ran down his face, gasping out at intervals, " If 
it wasn't worth while coming from London on 
purpose to see this ! I'd have walked the dis- 
tance rather than have lost it." 


But the doctor and Mr. Brown were in no 
humour for mirth. Indeed they were highly 
indignant that any one else should be so. They 
expostulated, and scolded, and implored to be re- 
leased from their very unpleasant position, which, 
of course, as long as the cow was in the way, 
was not a very easy matter. Tom and she were 
the quietest parties present. She looked at him 
as if to ask if he was really in earnest, and he 
looked back again in a manner that informed 
her he was. At last the cow thought it best to 
yield the point, and quietly allowed Tom to 
lead her out, when the parson and Mr. Garland 
entered the shed, and with the utmost polite- 
ness assisted the unfortunate gentlemen down 
from the hay-rack. They were not in a very fit 
trim to walk back to the town, especially Mr. 
Brown, who bore evident marks of his progress 
over the cow-house floor. But there was no help 
for it, and with very dismal faces they found 
their way home, where they undressed and went 
to bed, giving strict orders not to be called till 
it was dinner-time. 

" I can't go and see my patients till the after- 
noon," said Dr. Jefferies. "Patients, indeed I 
I think I want a doctor myself. I never spent 
such an awful night in all my life, and it will be 
many a day before I get over it." 


The parson asked Mr. Garland to breakfast 
with him, which that gentleman was very ready 
to do, and equally ready to accept Mrs. General's 
invitation to dine with her and a few friends, of 
whom Mr. Trevor was one, and, on the whole, 
enjoyed himself in their society so well, that he 
began to feel quite grateful to Mr. Quarle for 
summoning him to Bridgetown at Christmas 




fflAVING secured the cow again in her shed, 
Tom and Dick ran back to Mr. Wil- 
kins's, where they found breakfast ready, and 
Jack entertaining Mrs. Wilkins with sundry 
speculations as to whether the cold in the night 
had been sharp enough to freeze his uncles stiff ; 
and if so, what would be the best way of thaw- 
ing them again. He was delighted when he 
heard Dick's account of the manner in which 
they had been imprisoned in the hay-rack, and 
capered about in his chair till he upset his coffee, 
when a mild reprimand from Mrs. Wilkins, 
pointing out how he had stained her clean cloth, 
recalled him to more orderly behaviour. It was 
a glorious Christmas morning, with the air so 
clear and frosty, the hedges lightly silvered over, 
and here and there in the distance the snow, 


which had not melted from the last fall, lying in 
patches of white under the hedges. Mrs, WiU 
kins had decorated her house with holly, and 
had it cleaned up thoroughly in honour of the 
occasion, so that everything in it looked sprucer 
and brighter even than ever. After breakfast 
she took them over the house, which was a very 
qosy little place, with plenty of good substantial 
furniture in it. Then Seth Wilkins showed them 
over the garden, and the small farmyard, where 
every one of the fowls knew him, and each had 
its distinctive name. There was the pigsty, too, 
where a pig had just been put up to fatten in 
place of the one that had been slaughtered to 
make Christmas cheer, and with a melancholy 
satisfaction Mr. Wilkins pointed out to the boys 
that the pig took to its food kindly, and seemed 
likely to do well upon it. 

" Though there's a deal of loss in one's own 
pork," he said, with a mournful sigh ; " and as 
to poultry, I don't suppose there's an ^^ ever 
laid costs me less than sixpence. Fowls seem 
to think they come into the world for nothing 
but eating. The expense I'm at in this place is 
frightful. I tell Mrs. Wilkins I'm losing by it 
every day." 

As all his losses never made Mr. Wilkins any 
poorer, the boys were not much affected by this 


recital of grievances. It was now time to get 
ready for church, there being no service at the 
chapel, and the boys soon started off, glad to 
see their old friend the parson in the pulpit, 
and to look round on so many well-remembered 

The church was decorated with holly in the 
old-fashioned style, wreaths twisted round the 
pillars, and hung from the beams. No gumming 
of leaves, or monograms of berries ; they did 
things in a much simpler style at Bridgetown 
sixty years ago ; there was no organ, but a few 
wind instruments, not too well played, served 
instead, and the boys of the charity school sang 
heartily at the top of their voices, seeming to 
think that what they wanted in sweetness and 
skill they would make up in strength. But it 
was a joyful service to Dick and Tom, for all 
these drawbacks — a service in which they could 
join heartily as one of thanksgiving and praise 
for the protection that had been over them, 
and the mercies vouchsafed since they had left 
Bridgetown last. 

The parson's sermon, too, was a good one. 
It always was when he took a plain text from 
the Bible, and spoke a few plain words from it, 
instead of bewildering his hearers with quota- 
tions from the Fathers, or other wise men of 


whom they knew nothing. It was short, too, as 
a sermon should be on Christmas-day, and sim- 
ple and straightforward, just as he might have 
given a little kindly counsel to his parishioners 
in their own homes ; and when it was over he 
came out and shook hands with his people, ask- 
ing after one or the other who might be absent, 
and sending friendly messages to those whom 
indisposition or other causes had compelled to 
stop away. 

Of course neither Dr. Jefferies nor Mr. Brown 
was at church, and as to their wives they were 
staying at home to take care of them ; but Mrs. 
Preston was there, looking very sad and quiet in 
her widow's weeds, and Tom and Dick went up 
to her and thanked her very warmly for the 
kindness she had shown them. She was quite 
pleased to see them looking so well and strong, 
and told them to be sure and come the next day 
to see her ; then she kissed little Jack, and Mrs. 
General just then coming up, complimented him 
on the way he had grown, and his good looks 
and smart clothes. Of course she gave the boys 
an invitation too, telling them they must all 
come to tea with her the day after they had 
been to Mrs. Preston's. Then Harry Swain 
and one or two of the other boys came up, and 
they all walked on together. They came up 


with old Quarle before long; he was crawling 
along in the frosty sunshine, looking more 
pinched and feeble than ever. Shock was with 
him, and Shock was evidently aging too ; but 
both the dog and his master were glad to see 
Tom, and the old man, smiling faintly, said— . 

" So youVe come to see us all again, Tom." 

" Yes, sir," said Tom, " and very glad to do it, 
too. Mrs. Preston was good enough to say 
she'd pay our coach fare, so here we arc. Well, 
Shock, so you know me, old fellow. I never 
knew a dog with such a memory." 

"Yes, Shock remembers his friends, and so 
does his master," said Quarle. " You saved his 
life, Tom, and neither he nor I have forgotten 
it, or other things beside." 

"Well, youVe paid me for them very well, 
sir," said Tom, laughing, " so please don't say 
any more about it. Come on, Dick, or we shall 
be too late for dinner." 

The old man looked after the boys sadly, 
struck painfully, perhaps, by the contrast be- 
tween their high spirits and elation and his own 
dreariness. " No one but Shock — no one but 
Shock," he murmured. "Well, come on, old 
dog, and let us eat our Christmas dinner once 
more together." 

The minister dined at Mrs. Wilkins's that day. 

B 13 



It was a capital dinner, too, all from the fj 
yard, fowls and pork of Mrs, Wilkins's 
fattening, and a pudding that made Jack s 
with delight, he declared it was " such a wop] 
"I made it big," said the mistress, "that 
boys might take a good share of it back v 
i , 1 you go, and I thought little Jack here sh 

™^^'" take a slice to Mr. Quarle to-morrow. I c 

suppose the poor old soul has had the heai 
mix one for himself." 

"I'll go with Jack when he takes it," 
Tom, looking as if Mrs. Wilkins had conferr 
personal kindness on himself He had thoi 
yery kindly the last year of Mr, Quarle to \ 
he had previously done, and felt pleased at 
opportunity of showing the old man a 1 

The day was a quiet, but a very happy 
The old minister asked the boys how diffe 
places were looking in London, and gave tl 
reminiscences of his one visit there thirty y. 
before. Then Mrs. Wilkins told them stone 
her own early days, and Mr. Wilkins san 
song in a manner so excruciatingly melanci 
that little Jack stared at him open mouthec 
great doubt as to whether propriety requ: 
him to laugh or to cry. But there was no qi 
tion as to which he was to do when Dick s 

THE FIRE. 371 

Jiis comic song, which he had been practising for 
this occasion the last two months, and then 
Tom gave " Tom Bowling," and other ditties of 
Dibdin, in capital style. "Tom Bowling" was 
always a favourite of his, as he was of most 
hearty English boys at that time. 

So the day wore on, and at last the old minis- 
ter, having offered up prayers, took his leave, 
and before long every one in Seth Wilkins's 
quiet household was asleep, calmly, peacefully 
asleep ; little dreaming of what the wakening 
would be from that slumber. 

Such a wakening ! they never forgot it. Cries 
of " Fire ! fire !" resounding through the air ; 
men hurrying past the quiet homestead and 
hoarsely talking to each other. Where — where 
was it } Tom sprang on his feet, awake in an 
instant, his first thought for little Jack, who was 
sitting upright in bed, looking wondcringly 
around him. It was not here, so Jack and all 
in the master's house were safe ; and then Tom 
ran to the window, and throwing back the white 
curtains looked out, and then started back ap- 

The sky was red with the lurid reflection of 
the flame, and in the distance Tom could see 
above the houses of the town tongues of flame 
shooting upwards. They appeared to rise from 

B B 2 


the street in which Quarle's house was situated — 
perhaps from that very house. Tom shuddered ; 
Quarle was so old and helpless, he might die 
before help could reach him. Few would care to 
run much risk to save so unpopular a character 
as the miser, and if the flames were high he 
might be left to perish in them with his dog. 

** Not if I can help it," said Tom, dressing him- 
self as he spoke, while Dick, who had sprung out of 
bed when he did so, began doing the same, observ- 
ing, " If you're off to see the fun, Tom, so am I." 

Seth Wilkins too appeared to be moving; 
indeed he had been aroused at the same time as 
the boys, and was dressing himself with a mournful 
alacrity, observing to his wife, " I'll go and see 
whose house it is that's on fire ; perhaps some 
poor creatures may want a home before the night's 
out, and if they do, why, I suppose, Rebecca, we 
must do our part by them as well as we can." 

" To be sure," said his wife, cheerily ; "and be 
thankful we've got it to do with. I'll get up and 
light a good fire in the kitchen, and have the 
kettle boiling in case you bring any one home. 
A cup of tea's a wonderful comfort if one's called 
up unexpected in the night." 

Seth Wilkins thought in his own mind that a cup 
of tea would not be much comfort to him if he 
were called up through his house being burned 

THE FIRE. 373 

over his head ; but he left his wife to make what 
preparations her kind heart prompted her to for 
anypoor houseless creatures he might bring home, 
and, hastening downstairs, was just unfastening 
the door when he saw Tom and Dick coming 
down the stairs. 

" We're going too, master," said Tom, " to sec 
if we can't lend a hand in putting the fire out. I 
doubt it's Quarle's house, and I think folks wont 
be so ready to help him as they might others." 

" Boys like you would be better in your beds," 
said Mr. Wilkins. " I don't know though — come 
along — it's right for us all to do what we 

They hurried on towards the town, and then 
through the streets, which were now alive with 
people hastening towards the fire. They heard 
the rumble of the parish engine — a heavy, lum- 
bering thing, which had not been in use for years, 
and was by no means in such good order as it 
should be. There had been some delay in get- 
ting the water ; for, of course, in a small town like 
Bridgetown, sixty years ago, it was not laid on, 
and the pond to which they had had recourse 
was frozen all over the surface. But on came the 
engine now, with men shouting and boys hurraing, 
and Seth Wilkins and the boys ran on by its 
side, and, stopping when the engine did, found 


that the fire was, as Tom had instinctively guessed, 
at old Quark's. 

No one ever knew how it had arisen — ^the old 
man himself could nevertell. Whether a spark had 
flown unnoticed from his wood fire on the dry- 
old flooring near it, and smouldered and burned 
unseen till it had attained strength and power 
sufficient to burst forth in all its fury, and taunt 
the poor helpless occupant of the house with his 
impotence to check it, none could say. Let it have 
arisen as it might, there it was now, a terrible and 
fearful thing, grand with a fiend-like beauty as it 
towered above the living, surging mass below, as 
if to laugh at the utter vainness of their attempts 
to quell it. 

The water played, but without any effect, upon 
the flames. Tom looked anxiously about in the 
crowd. Was Quarle there, looking on at the 
ruin of his house, or was he — ^was he in it 
still ! 

A cry, a sharp, terrible cry from one of the 
upper rooms of the house answered Tom's ques- 
tion. He looked up, and saw by the light of the 
flames the figure of the old man waving his 
hands and shrieking and crying for help — for 
the help that all around seemed to shrink from 

He had been awakened by his dog's howling- 

THE FIRE. 375 

Shock had become aware of the danger, and did 
his best to rouse his master to a sense of it. 
Quarle heard the crackling of wood, and smelled 
that something was burning. But his predominant 
passion — avarice — which had been the bane of 
his life and made him an outcast from his kind, 
now seemed likely to bring death, and a terrible 
one, upon him. Instead of thinking how best to 
insure his safety, he began hastily securing what- 
ever money he had in the house about him, and 
filling his pockets with different documents 
which might be worth much gold, but were scarcely 
worth a human life. Then he began to think of 
escape ; but the flames had made rapid progress, 
were fast coming up the stairs, and gaining on and 
hemming him in on every side. No hope — no 
hope. He ran to and fro in his agony, but there 
was no outlet — none ! He rushed to one of the 
windows and looked down on the living mass 
below. There they were — there — all those living 
human faces. Was there not one amongst them 
who would give him help } Couldn't they raise 
a ladder against the house } Why had they not 
thought of it before } Oh ! they were cruel- 
cruel, hard, and pitiless ! They had come there 
as to a show, to please their eyes with seeing his 
house burned and himself destroyed ! They were 
not human beings, but demons gloating over his 


agonies. No ! — ^they were bringing a ladder ; 
but it was too short — it would never reach the 
window where he v/as ! They were splicing 
another on to it— quick ! — quick! — the flames 
were gaining on him, and the smoke stifling his 
breath ! He looked again despairingly on the 
crowd below, and saw a boyish face — boyish, but 
strong and brave, and looking like an angel's 
with the tender pity in its eyes, and then the old 
man felt a gleam of hope, and sent forth a wild 
cry—** Tom !" 

Then he fell back dazed and stupefied, and a 
shudder ran through the crowd, as men said one 
to another, " It's too late now, he can't save him- 
self by the ladder, and who will go inside to fetch 
him^ out !" 

" Put up the ladder — quick !" cried a clear,, loud 
voice ; and the men instinctively placed it against 
the window where Quarle had just been standing. 
" Hold it fast," cried the same tones, and in a 
second Tom Dunstone was seen flying up the 

" Come back, lad ! come back !" cried many 
voices ; " you'll kill yourself, and can't save him 
by rushing in the fire." 

Women cried and wrung their hands, — '' The 
brave boy ! the noble boy ! to dare his death like 
that ! Better such as Quarle should perish a 


thousand times than Tom lose his life in trying 
to save him." And they called on Tom to come 
back — back from what would be certain death. 

But on Tom went ; he heard nothing, saw 
nothing, but the helpless human creature who had 
called on him in his agony. Up ! up ! though 
the flames shot out their fiery tongues from the 
burning house, and scorched his face and singed 
his hair. Up ! up ! through the heat and the 
smoke till he leaped into the room where Quarle 
lay stupefied upon the ground, with his dog 
moaning helplessly by him. 

Tom raised the old man in his arms, and drag- 
ged him to the window. He was thin and spare, 
and Tom strong for his age ; besides, the circuni- 
stances gave him a strange force and power. 
Shock looked at Tom with great, sad, wistful 
eyes. Was he to perish there ? 

Tom understood and answered him. " Keep 
by the window, Shock, and Til come back for 
you." Shock seemed satisfied, and waited by 
the open window as if in calm reliance on Tom's 
word. Then Tom descended the ladder, placing 
Quarle before him, and so sliding down. They 
reached the bottom, and Tom heard a loud hur- 
rah from the crowd below, and, leaving Quarle, he 
was about to rush up the ladder again, when Seth 
Wilkins stepped forward and laid hold of him. 


" Not again, Tom, my boy ! It's tempting 

" IVe promised !" cried Tom ; " I've promised 
the dog to go back for him !" and shaking off his 
old master's hand he tore up the ladder, and in 
another minute was seen descending with Shock 
in his arms. 

The shout that rent the air ! It was as if every 
man in «11 that crowd had but one heart and one 
voice with which to give its feelings vent. Only 
the women cried and sobbed, and one was heard 
to say, "If his mother could be living now to see 
him !" 

But the flames from the house were terrible, 
and, as if angry with Tom for snatching their prey 
from them, they sent out their cloven tongues 
and caught the ropes that bound the ladder 
together, caught and singed them, so that when 
Tom was on the lower rungs of the upper ladder 
they gave way beneath him, and he fell heavily 
down on the pavement beneath. 

Then there was a cry of horror, and women 
crowding and sobbing passionately, as if weeping 
over their own dead, and strong men gasping 
with terror, lest the brave boy who had shamed 
them all should never live to know how they 
esteemed him, and above all the voice of 
Mrs. Mauriel, who had come there with the 


Rector, crying, as she bent over Tom, and kissed 
him, *' Oh, Tom ! Tom ! the best and noblest boy 
in all the world, to die like this !" 

And then she wept as none had ever seen her 
weep, but once when she stood by her dead hus- 
band's coffin. 



ffKHUT Tom was not to die yet There were 
MSm many years of work and usefulness before 
him, though for days his life was despaired of by 
his friends. There were no hmbs broken, but the 
shock to the whole system, caused by a fall from 
such a height, was very severe, and Tom lay in a 
helpless state, stunned, speechless, and uncon- 
scious of all around day after day, till Dick and 
Jack began to doubt whether he would ever 
speak again. 

Mr. Wheatley attended him, and Dick and 
Mrs. Wilkins were his most assiduous nurses. 
Quarle came two or three times a day to see how 
he was progressing, and sometimes was allowed 
to go into the room where Tom was lying still 
and pale, with great wide open eyes that saw 
nothing. Shock would follow his master, and sit 


down near the bed, looking wistfully at Tom ; 
while Quarle would stand with his hands upon 
his stick, and his grey eyes bent upon the boy 
for whose life, miser as he was, I verily believe 
he would have given all his hoarded gold. 

At last Mr. Wheatley spoke of hope, and then 
of certainty ; Tom would recover — be well and 
strong in God's good time, with careful nursing 
and great care. Nursing ! care ! — ^would not the 
mistress give him these } and were not Mrs. Gene- 
ral and Mrs. Preston only too glad to help her } 
Through all the town there was but one feeling 
with regard to Tom : — He was the best and 
bravest boy in all the wide West Country, and if 
he died it would be long enough before they had 
such another. 

Prayers were put up for Tom in church and 
chapel, and Mr. Trevor called almost as often as 
the old minister to hear how he was progressing. 
Even Mr. Jefferies and Mr. Brown began to think 
they would have done much better not to have 
ignored their relationship to Tom, and the doctor 
went so far as to offer to attend him gratuitously. 
But, fortunately for Tom, Mr. Quarle rejected this 
offer : he had already told Mr. Wheatley that he 
might look to him for the settlement of his 
charges for Tom ; and Mr. Wilkins was only too 
glad to have so good an excuse for declining the 


doctor's offer. So Tom progressed slowly but 
surely, and at last, three weeks after the night of 
the fire, he was told that Mr. Garland, who had 
been obliged to go to town to attend to his 
business, had returned, and was coming to see 
him the next day. 

"That's very good of him," said Tom to 
Dick. " I wonder whether, when he goes back, 
he would mind calling on Mr. Webb, and asking 
him to keep our places open for us a little longer ? 
Or perhaps, Dick," he added sadly, "you'll go 
back and make sure of yours. I've no right to be 
keeping you here wasting your time, and there's 
no knowing when I shall be strong enough to 
work again." 

" Don't trouble yourself about that," said Dick; 
"perhaps there isn't so much need to work as 
you think for. And I'm not going back to Mr. 
Webb's ; I've written to tell him so. Mr. Quarle 
has got me a much better berth than I had 
there, at a large builder's in Bristol. I'm to have 
more money to begin with, and a good chance of 
pushing myself on, so as to be something better 
than a mere journeyman all my life. Mr. Gar- 
land's been telling me all about it. He stopped 
at Bristol, coming down, on purpose to settle 
everything. I've promised him to go to evening 
school regular, and to take lessons in architec- 


tural drawing. Oh, you'll just see if I don't get 
on, Tom, and be somebody by-and-by. But I'm 
not to leave you till you're all right again. 
Quarle's positive about that, and so am I. Ah ! 
he's not a bad sort, that old fellow, Tom, after all." 

'* No," said Tom, languidly ; " I suppose there's 
more good in him than people think for. At any 
rate, I'm glad I saved him." 

*' You'll have no need to be sorry," said Dick, 
mysteriously. "But you're looking tired, and 
I'm talking away nineteen to the dozen. Let me 
cover you up, and do you go to sleep like a good 
fellow. I want you as well as can be to see Mr. 
Garland to-morrow." 

So Tom closed his eyes and slept, without 
troubling himself as to the meaning of Dick's 
words ; and the next morning when he was 
washed and tidied up, and had made his break- 
fast, Mrs.Wilkins told him a visitor had called to 
see him, and Mr. Garland came in. 

It was the first time he had seen Mr. Garland 
since the last eventful Christmas-day, and it 
seemed such a long time since then. Such a 
long time since he, Tom, was hale and strong, 
and able to walk about and take care of himself, 
instead of lying here prone and helpless to be 
cared for by kind-hearted women as though he 
were a baby. 


Mr. Garland spoke very kindly to him, and 
then, after a few remarks upon indifferent sub- 
jects, observed — 

" Now, Tom, this is a business visit, and I 
come to you on the part of my client Mr. Quarle." 

Tom stared ; what had Mr. Quarle to do with 
him in a matter of business ? But Mr. Garland 
proceeded : — 

" IVe brought a deed with me. I'm not going 
to ask you to read it, but I should just like to 
show it to you." He took it from the pocket of 
his great-coat, and unfolded it before Tom's eyes. 
Tom saw his own name — ^Thomas Dunstone — 
in large text letters two or three times, and he 
stared vacantly at the mass of writing before 
him, and then looked to Mr. Garland for an ex- 

" Tom," said that gentleman, " this piece of 
parchment does a great deal for you. It makes 
you Squire of Prest-hope, as your grandfather, and 
his father's fathers were before you. Mr. Quarle 
has given you this as an earnest of his gratitude 
to you for saving his life, and that of the only 
friend he has in all the world — his dog." 

Tom flushed scarlet ; the tears came in his 
eyes, and he trembled all over. He was very 
weak still, and easily agitated ; then he stam- 
mered out — 


" I can't take it, sir — it's too much. I couldn't 
let the old man die when he called on me to help 
him ; and as to Shock, I was forced to go back 
to him, when I'd given him my word I would." 

"It's not at all too much, Tom," said Mr. 
Garland, quietly. " Mr. Quarle is a rich man, 
though he gets little enjoyment from his money. 
He can well afford to give you this — ay ! and 
even more ; and I do not think you should 
grudge him the pleasure of doing so. You have 
no right, Tom, no rights my boy, to insist upon 
his remaining so much in your debt, without 
suffering him to make some recompense for the 
life you have given him. Mr. Quarle has been 
a hard man in his time, and done some pitiless 
things, but I believe, as far as your late father 
was concerned, he is heartily repentant ; and I 
think, Tom, that needing, as we all do, forgiveness 
ourselves, it is time that you gave yours to him." 

" It isn't that," cried Tom ; " I've forgiven 
him long ago. I saw that he was sorry, and I 
felt I ought, at last. But this is too much for me 
to take — perhaps I ought to let him give me 
something if it will make him feel happier— but 
not this — all this — me^ the Squire of Prest-hope 
— why, sir, what shall I do with myself, and with 
the land and all that it brings in ?" 

" I should have thought you would have known 

c c 


a ready use for all that, Tom," said Mr. Garland. 
" I think Mr. Quarle is as yet the only one of 
your father's creditors you have paid off." 

Tom flushed. ** Yes, it would help me there,, 
sir ; but fancy me^ the Squire — why, I'm no 
gentleman, to begin with." 

" Not so great a disqualification for the part 
as you fancy, Tom," said Mr. Garland, smiling ; 
" but I think myself you have as good a right 
to be styled a gentleman as any Preston of them 
all. But, though Mr. Quarle gives you the lands 
at once,, with the dwelling-house and the old fur- 
niture in it,^ neither he nor I think . it wise that 
you should enter at once into possession of them. 
The rents are to lie by for the next few years 
along with the profits from the home farm and 
orchards, and will be invested on your behalf till 
you are of an age to- know what to do with them ; 
and in the meanwhile I propose that you shall 
go first to an old friend of mine, who takes a 
few private pupils — lids about your own age ; 
and when he has polished you a little, and given 
you as much knowledge of different matters as 
it is right the Squire of Prest-hope should know; 
and I dare say with hard woric on your part — 
which you are not the boy to flinch from — ^he 
will have done as much in a couple of years ; 
then the next thing will be for you to become 


pupil for another year to a gentleman farmer — 
one who thoroughly understands his business, 
and will teach you yours. You will be only 
nineteen then — a young Squire ; but, neither 
Mr. Quarle nor I have any doubt, quite wise 
enough to fill the place with due propriety. And 
as to Prest-hope not being your due, why, Tom," 
added Mr. Garland, with sudden vehemence, 
striking the document he held as he spoke, ** I 
•consider you're as much entitled to it as I am 
to the twenty guineas I mean to charge Mr. 
Quarle for drawing up this deed." 

Tom reflected a little, and then he said, " Well, 
jsir, as you think it right I'll take it, and thank 
Mr. Quarle." 

" That's a fine fellow !" said Mr. Garland. 
*" There's one thing more he wished, but that is 
to be as you pleased. He would like you to 
take the name of Preston instead of the one you 
bear. What do you say, my boy ? Will you 
be Preston of Presthope ?" 

** No, sir," replied Tom, " I'd rather keep my 
father's name. It was good enough for him and 
for .many a Dunstone in the old farm-house 
before, and good enough for my mother to change 
Jier own for. Tell Mr. Quarle I thank him, but 
I'd rather not be the Squire if I can't be Tom 
Dunstone still." 


" Then Tom Dunstone you shall be, and the 
Squire to boot/' said Mr. Garland. " Mr. Quarle 
makes no point of your taking the name. And 
now, good-bye, my boy. I am off by the coach 
this evening, and shall not see you again till I 
call on you at my friend's to hear how you are 
getting on." 

"Tell little Jack to come, sir, please," said Tom, 
as Mr. Garland took his leave. 

Little Jack came, and nestled up to the bed- 
side by Tom, who took his small hand in his, 
and stroked it fondly. " Jack ! Jack ! we shall 
haye a home together at last. Oh ! Jack ! Jack \ 
think of that !" then Tom fell into a long, deep 
sleep, from which he woke wonderfully strength- 
ened and refreshed. 

His recovery made rapid progress after this. 
Happiness is such a wonderful physician, and 
Tom was very happy now, with the prospect of 
a home for little Jack, and the means of paying 
all his father's creditors. He worked hard and 
steadily at his books for two years, and then as 
hard to acquire a thorough practical knowledge 
of farming. At the end of that time he came 
to Prest-hope, where little Jack and he made 
their home together, Mrs. Preston keeping it for 
them, till eight years later Tom brought a wife 
home to do so instead. But Mrs. Preston lived 


very near them, and after a time, whien Jack 
started as doctor in the town, kept his house for 
many years. Jack never marrying, saying some- 
times there was no woman in the world half so 
well worth loving as Tom ; and as to children, 
hadn't Tom plenty for both of them? Jack 
makes a famous doctor, clever and kind, and 
very sparing of his physic ; and though he has 
lately given the bulk of his practice up to one 
of his nephews, who is treading closely in his 
uncle's steps, still the townspeople think there is 
no one like the " old doctor," after all. 

Mr. Quarle lived to an extreme old age. It 
was a good thing for him that his house was 
burned down, for Mrs. Wilkins in a manner took 
possession of him, and persuaded him to live in 
a cottage adjoining their own, where she could 
go every day and look after him, and send in 
her little maid Mary with broom and pail occa- 
sionally. There was no resisting Mrs. Wilkins. 
Mr. Quarle found himself obliged to live and 
dress a little more like other people, and insen- 
sibly he became weaned from the most repulsive 
of his habits, though he was always strange and 
peculiar. It was a great trouble to him when 
Shock died, but Tom's children, one after the 
other, comforted the old man. His favourite of 
all was one called Lucy — Lucy, after Tom's 


dear mother — another little Lucy growing up at 
Prest-hope, and sleeping in her happy girlhood 
in the little chamber over the porch which the 
last Lucy had inhabited. When old Quarle 
died, he did not do as many people had sup- 
posed he would, leave all his money to Tom. 
He knew him better, so he left the bulk of his 
wealth to different charitable institutions, fifty 
guineas to "Thomas Dunstone, Esq." for a 
mourning ring, and five thousand pounds as a 
marriage portion to his daughter Lucy. 

And Lucy gave herself and her fortune to Dick's 
eldest son, a rising young architect and surveyor. 
For Dick had done as he had said, and become 
*' somebody " too ; and, as a builder on a large 
scale, with above a hundred men in his employ, 
was a person of no small importance in Bristol 
Mrs. General Mauriel married the parson -at 
last. It was said that the courtship had lasted 
for ten years ; but at any rate, though they were 
each above fifty when they married, they lived 
more than twenty years very happily together. 
Mrs. Wilkins lived to see Tom's grandchildren, 
and was happy and peaceful and placid to the 
last. She had nursed her husband, the good old 
minister, and Mr. Quarle in their last illnesses, 
and at length she closed her own eyes, happy in 
the thought that she had lived to see the boys 


to whom she had been as a mother, rich, pros- 
perous, and good men, and happy, too, in the 
thought that her long day's work was over, and 
that she was to enter into her reward at last. 

Ambrose Dunstone and his wife rejoiced 
greatly at Tom's prosperity, and when Tom 
came into his estate, he lost no time in present- 
ing Ambrose with a good gold watch and Mrs. 
'Ambrose with a silver teapot, as some acknow- 
ledgment of their kindness in giving little Jack 
and himself a home when they had no other ; 
and to the day of her death Mrs. Ambrose, when 
at home, would never take tea but out of that 
teapot. She said it had quite a different flavour 
to that made in any other, and made the tea go 
half as far again ; and when Ambrose and his wife 
could use the teapot and watch no longer them- 
selves, they were severally solemnly bequeathed 
as a legacy and heirloom to Tom's eldest son 
and daughter, " so that," as Ambrose worded it> 
" they should never go out of the family." 

Mrs. Jefferies and Mrs. Brown were genteel to 
the last, but their sons did not do very well. 
The last heard of Gussy, many years ago, was 
that he was croupier at one of the gambling 
tables at Baden-Baden ; and Fred was killed in 
a fight in the diggings of California, after lead- 
ing a wandering, disreputable life for years. 


And as to Tom — my good, brave, honest Tom, 
whom I have learned to love, while writing of 
his boyish fortunes, almost as though he were 
one of the boys to whom night after night I have 
read his story — ^what shall I say of him ? He 
is an old man now, old, grey-headed, yet erect 
as ever, with children's children round his knees, 
but with a heart as young and a soul as brave as 
when he first felt that he had to battle his way 
to win a home for little Jack, and clear his 
father's name. He is a loving husband, a fond 
father, and a generous master. He has never 
forgotten his own troubles, and the recollection 
has made him ever ready to help others in their 
up-hill path ; and through all the country where 
his father's fathers dwelt for years, and where 
the Squires of Prest-hope lived for generations 
back, there has been no name more known and 
honoured far and wide than that of him who 
began his up-hiU way as the carpenter's appren- 
tice, Tom Dunstone. 



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